Betty Davis, the Queen of Funk, has died at 77
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  • Post published:10/02/2022
  • Post last modified:10/02/2022
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Betty Davis, the Queen of Funk, has died at 77


    Trailblazing funk pioneer Betty Davis has died at the age of 77. 

    The legendary vocalist shocked the world with her sexually explicit lyrics and the brash bravura of her blistering voice and delivery as she brought a fresh impetus to R&B in 1964. She then continued in that vein as she pioneered funk stylings up until 1975 when she began to move away from the music industry. 

    The musician, who was born in North Carolina in 1944, began writing songs at the tender age of 12 but it wasn’t until she moved to New York City when she was 17 that she began to get noticed. Therein she began modelling and managed a nightclub frequented by the likes of Andy Warhol and Jimi Hendrix. 

    It was here that the legendary jazz musician Miles Davis became aware of her music. The two later married in 1968, however, wedding bells didn’t signify a happily ever after for the pair and they parted ways after a tumultuous year. During that time, however, they did rub off on each other musically with Miles Davis encouraging her to delve deeper into funk while she introduced her husband to Jimi Hendrix which proved instrumental in developing the fusion of Bitches Brew.

    In the years that followed Betty Davis rightly earned her title as the undisputed Queen of Funk, releasing a string of boundary-pushing records. Despite this, commercial success evaded the star and from 1975 her output dwindled. Eventually, she completely withdrew from the industry after her 1979 record Crashin’ from Passion

    When reflecting on this in a recent interview with the New York Times, Davis simply stated: “When I was told that it was over, I just accepted it. And nobody else was knocking at my door.” Nevertheless, her music continued to inspire the next generation of musicians, as Janelle Monae put it, she was “one of the godmothers of redefining how Black women in music can be viewed.”

    While her friend, Danielle Maggio, has confirmed that she died of natural causes, no official cause of death has been revealed. In the aftermath, the music world has been quick to celebrate an icon who opened the doors for so many.

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