MUSIC: Funk star Betty Davis dies at the age of 77.

News of her death was con­firmed on her web­site by her friend Con­stance Portis.

Trib­utes have been paid to Davis by stars such as Amer­i­can rock­er Lenny Kravitz and Prince’s estate, which has writ­ten about his influ­ence on him.

Prince’s estate not­ed how the late star once referred to Davis’ work in an inter­view, say­ing “that’s what we’re aim­ing for”.

Born and raised as Bet­ty Mabry in North Car­oli­na, Davis became a main­stay of the 1960s New York music scene, with songs like Get Ready for Bet­ty. Her 1967 song Uptown (to Harlem), which she wrote for the Cham­bers Broth­ers, recent­ly reap­peared in Quest­love’s Oscar-nom­i­nat­ed doc­u­men­tary, Sum­mer of Soul.

“I wrote about love, real­ly, and on all lev­els of love,” she told The New York Times in 2018, in a rare inter­view after the release of the doc­u­men­tary Bet­ty — They Say I’m Dif­fer­ent. “When I was writ­ing about it, no one was writ­ing about it. But now every­one is writ­ing about it. It’s like a cliché.”

She has influ­enced artists such as Prince, Madon­na, Janelle Mon­ae and Erykah Badu
She was the sec­ond wife of jazz star Miles Davis, and although they were only mar­ried for a year, she is wide­ly cred­it­ed with help­ing the trum­peter and band­leader turn to the rock music of the day, intro­duc­ing him to artists like Jimi Hen­drix and Sly Stone. His lat­er jazz-rock fusion phase brought the clas­sic album Bitch­es Brew.

“Every day I was mar­ried to him was a day I earned the Davis name,” she said in the doc­u­men­tary about their event­ful time together.

The record­ings they made togeth­er were shelved after their sep­a­ra­tion, but she final­ly released her self-titled debut album in 1973.

Bet­ty Davis was one of the first black women to be recog­nised for writ­ing, arrang­ing and pro­duc­ing her own albums, such as They Say I’m Dif­fer­ent and Nasty Gal. But she dis­ap­peared from the music indus­try in the late 1970s.

Although her music was not com­mer­cial­ly suc­cess­ful, it proved influ­en­tial for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Janelle Mon­ae has pre­vi­ous­ly described Davis as “one of the god­moth­ers of redefin­ing how black women in music can be per­ceived”, while Erykah Badu once com­ment­ed, “We are but grains of sand in her Bettyness.”

“Mul­ti-tal­ent­ed musi­cal influ­encer“
Male rap­pers, includ­ing Ice Cube and Tal­ib Kweli, have also sam­pled his work.

After a brief stay with silent monks in Japan, she returned to the Pitts­boro, North Car­oli­na area and stayed away for most of her life. “When I was told it was over, I just accept­ed it,” Davis told the New York Times. “And no one else was knock­ing on my door.”

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