Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Betty Harris

Betty Harris  (born 1939 Harridick, in Orlando, Florida) is an American Soul Singer. Her recording career in the 1960s produced three hit records that made the Billboard R&B and pop charts: "Cry to Me" (1963), "His Kiss" (1964) and "Nearer to You" (1967). However, her reputation among soul music connoisseurs far exceeds her commercial success of the 1960s, and her recordings for the Jubilee and Sansu record labels are highly sought after in the 2000s by fans of Northern Soul and Deep Soul.

Career
In 1963, after being in the music business for a few years, Betty Harris recorded a slowed down version of Solomon Burke's hit of the year before, "Cry to me", produced by the original record's producer, Bert Berns, and released on the Jubilee record label. Taken at a slower pace, Betty's rendition turned the song into a top 10 R&B hit and Deep Soul classic. Two further singles were released on Jubilee, also produced by Bert Berns, with "Hiss Kiss", another Deep Soul ballad, making the lower part of Billboard Pop and R&B charts.

In 1965, Betty Harris switched record labels to Sansu, a New Orleans label, where she was produced by legendary New Orleans producer Allen Toussaint. Her contract with Sansu produced 10 singles. Of those, only "Nearer to You", an atmospheric, dramatic soul ballad, now considered one of the milestones of Deep Soul, achieved U.S. national chart success. However, practically all of her recordings for Sansu, uptempo tunes and ballads alike, featuring Allen Toussaint's raw yet sophisticated Southern Soul arrangements behind with Betty's rich, distinctive vocal, are considered prime specimens of the classic soul era; some notable recordings were "I'm Evil Tonight", a beat ballad favored among Northern Soul circles; "I Don't Want To Hear It", "Show it" and "Twelve Red Roses", stirring up tempo tracks; "Can't Last Much Longer" and "What'd I Do Wrong", emotive Deep Soul ballads.

All of the Sansu recordings were compiled into an album released in the U.K. (but not the U.S.), in 1969, called "Soul Perfection", an album which, in its vinyl format, although not extremely rare, commands relatively high prices of $200 to $300 in 2007.

A comprehensive CD compilation of Betty Harris recordings was released in 1999 by UK rerelease label, West Side.

In 2004, Betty Harris returned to the music business after a long departure. She has made several public appearances the U.S. and Europe, including the 2007 Porretta Soul Festival in Italy, and has recorded a new album, Intuition