Betty Wright, the soul and R&B singing icon died on May 10, 2020. She was 66. The singer’s niece confirmed to Heavy that Wight passed away on Mother’s Day.
Sadly, this isn’t the first tragedy to befall the family of the legendary performer. Wright, who was born Bessie Regina Norris in Miami, Florida, in 1953, and shot to stardom at age 18 with the release of her hit song, “Clean Up Woman,” was a mother to five children: Aisha, Patrice, Chaka Azuri, Asher, and Patrick.
On December 25, 2005, her son Patrick Parker was shot and killed at a holiday party in the Opa-Laka community in South Florida. He was 21 years old at the time of his death. No arrests were ever made in the killing.
According to Jerry Mason’s “The Boogie Report, “The Miami-Dade police say at some point Parker got into a fight with two men, Niaji Brown, 21, and Derrick Bryant, 18. When it was over, Parker lay dead, across the street from the hall at 1101 Opa-Locka Blvd, where the party was being held.” Police weren’t able to confirm what initially started the fight, which landed both Brown and Bryant with treatable injuries at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
At the time, Parker’s mother was on a cruise in the West Indies. After learning of the devastating news, the Grammy Award-winning singer immediately hopped on a chartered helicopter to Miami to be with her family. Wright said of her son, “We were extremely close. I’m just going to reflect on his life, and through prayer, we’ll get through this.”
Wright Always Prioritized Being A Mother Over Her Singing Career
While speaking South Florida Sun Sentinal in 1986, before she had her fifth child, Wright discussed how she would always put being a mother over her career.
“Motherhood and music-making are separate but equal,” Wright said. “My four kids give me purpose. Spending Christmas with a hit or fame doesn’t mean that much. The Lord wants someone on the mountain who can stand there and not be exalted. I’ve dealt with kings and paupers and I don’t feel any different talking to one or the other.”
After marrying for a third time to husband, Noel “King Sporty” Williams, she became a stepmother to his son, Yusef, who posted a beautiful tribute to Wright following her death.
Yusef wrote, “Thank you so much, Mama Betty, for being there for us for loving us unconditionally and also our mothers you were truly a rock for us all and I’m so blessed that I got to talk to you and tell you how much I loved and appreciated you! And no matter how tired you were you always had time to talk to me about knowing my worth and my value in my career and all the things I had to offer whether it was music or beauty and I’m so grateful for that. I pray that you and Daddy are dancing in heaven because I’m sure he’s so happy to see you.”
Wright and King Sporty were still married when he died on January 5, 2015.
Wright’s Song, ‘Dry Well’ Was Recorded As A Tribute To Her Son Patrick
Wright officially recorded the song, “Dry Well,” as a tribute to her son in 2014, but first performed the dedication song in 2012, at a rally in support of the arrest of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed in central Florida.
At the time, Write told NBC via Reuters of ongoing gun violence in America, “It is something where we need to stop and realize that this is like 2012 and it’s unacceptable. And if I can lend a celebrity voice to it, because when my son died, the way I got through it was through the power of family and the power of prayer. And I began to write it out, as I have always done the pain in my life.”