Happy birthday, Betty Davis!

J ust a reminder to take a minute in praise to a true funk-rock innovator. m4s0n501

Today marks the 67th birthday of one Betty Mabry, muse and second wife of Miles Davis and funk-rock innovator in her own right.  I’m reminded that Right To Rock author and now NYU professor Maureen Mahon scored a rare interview with the reclusive Davis that was posted on the now-defunct EbonyJet.com (hat tip to Duke University’s Mark Anthony Neal for excerpting a party of it).  In it, she wrote:

A former model and one-time Jet Beauty, Davis wore an enormous Afro and an electric smile, but she was more than another pretty face. She was the rare female recording artist who wrote, performed, and produced her own music. Davis did the arrangements for Betty Davis and produced her subsequent releases, They Say I’m Different, Nasty Gal (1975), and Crashin’ From Passion (1979). “I was just interested in keeping the sound pure,” she explained. She is matter-of-fact about these accomplishments. “I’ve been writing music since I was 12 years old,” she said. “I always thought of myself as a songwriter more so than an artist.” In fact, some of her earliest material was performed by other acts. In 1967, the black rock ’n’ roll group The Chambers Brothers recorded her composition “Uptown” for their The Time Has Come album, and in the early 1970s, she wrote material for the Commodores, helping the fledgling band secure a deal at Motown. But it was when she began to write for herself that her artistic vision came into full flower.

Here’s “Your Man My Man” from her debut album Betty Davis:

NYC will be celebrating Betty’s birthday this Sunday at DROM, when Nucomme presents Betty’s Story: A Multimedia Tribute.  Still time to get advanced tix.

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Rob Fields is the founder and publisher of Bold As Love Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @robfields.