The world of music in mourning: Betty Davis, pioneer of funk, died at 77
Sylvie Claire / February 10, 2022
It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of Betty Davis, a multi-talented musical influencer and rock pioneer, singer, songwriter and fashion figure, Davis' longtime friend Constance Portis announced on her website.
The second wife of jazz legend Miles Davis was a mainstay of the New York music scene in the 1960s, and recorded almost all of his music between 1964 and 1975, with tracks like Get Ready for Betty.
She was a big hit for her sexually charged lyricism, later setting the tone for legends like Prince and Madonna.
Although their marriage lasted only a year, Betty Davis is credited with introducing the trumpeter to the rock music of the time, through Jimi Hendrix, and paving the way for his fusion phase, which gave birth to Bitches Brew in 1970.
Betty Davis also wrote the song Uptown (to Harlem) in 1967 for the Chambers Brothers, rediscovered in the documentary Summer of Soul about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a 2022 Oscar-nominated film by musician Questlove.
Rappers like Ice Cube and Talib Kweli have sampled the work of Betty Davis, whose music has not been commercially successful but has inspired artists for decades.
For artist Janelle Monae, she is one of the godmothers behind redefining how black women in music can be perceived. We're just grains of sand in her Bettyness, singer Erykah Badu added of Betty Davis.