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Betty Wright is our local soul survivor. She's been doing the damned thing right since she was 12 years old. If you've heard the 1960s Eccentric Soul: Deep City Label compilation, you've heard a preteen Wright singing sweeter than a Velvette. When she was barely 18, she scored a Top Ten hit with the Clarence "Blowfly" Reid-penned "Clean Up Woman." For the past 40 years, she's been in and out of the spotlight, releasing albums and coaching today's vocal acrobats.
It's the time Wright spent out of the spotlight that makes her sound so bold and makes Betty Wright: The Movie feel so real. She's worked too hard to just be a prima donna. So when she sings about facing financial woe, acting right, and making love last, we believe her.
As a singer with such a wide vocal range, she could've taken the showboat route and caterwauled every syllable. We admire her economy and restraint; her voice locks in perfectly with the Roots' cool backing tracks.
With ?uestlove at the helm, The Movie is more a trip into Wright's world than a fish-out-of-water story. Guest spots by Snoop and Lil' Weezy are a perfect pinch of salt in Betty's wonderful home-cooked meal. If someone with less taste, talent, and knowledge had produced this, it's likely we would've found our woman fumbling through Auto-Tune, samples of herself, and champagne-room beats.
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