Orlando, FL, U.S.
|Genres||Soul music, southern soul|
|Years active||1963 --=|
Betty Harris (born 1939, 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.
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 Billboard pop #23 hit and Deep Soul classic. A total of 3 further singles including a reissue of "Cry To Me" were released on Jubilee, also produced by Bert Berns, with "His Kiss", released 1/04/64, another Deep Soul ballad, reaching the lower part of the Billboard Pop and R&B charts.
In 1964, Betty Harris switched record labels to Sansu, a New Orleans label, where she was produced by legendary New Orleans producer Allen Toussaint. Her recording 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 (Billboard #85). However, practically all of her recordings for Sansu, uptempo tunes and ballads alike, featuring Allen Toussaint's raw yet sophisticated Southern Soul arrangements behind 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 in Northern Soul circles; "I Don't Want To Hear It", "Show it" and "Twelve Red Roses", stirring uptempo 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 today.
A comprehensive CD compilation of Betty Harris recordings was released in 1999 by UK re-release label West Side.
In 2004, Betty Harris returned to the music business after a long departure.
- "Taking Care Of Business" / "Yesterday's Kisses" - Douglas 104 (1962)
- "Cry To Me" / "I'll Be A Liar" - Jubilee 5456 (1963)
- "His Kiss" / "It's Dark Outside" - Jubilee 5465 (1964)
- "Mojo Hannah" / "Now Is The Hour" - Jubilee 5480 (1964)
- "What A Sad Feeling" / "I'm Evil Tonight" - Sansu 450 (1965)
- "I Don't Want To Hear It" / "Sometime" - Sansu 452 (1966)
- "Twelve Red Roses" / "What'd I Do Wrong" - Sansu 455 (1966)
- "Lonely Hearts" / "Bad Luck" - Sansu 461 (1967)
- "Nearer To You" / "I'm Evil Tonight" - Sansu 466 (1967)
- "Can't Last Much Longer" / "I'm Gonna Git Ya" - Sansu 471 (1967)
- "Love Lots Of Lovin"' / "Take Care Of Our Love" (with Lee Dorsey) - Sansu 474 (1968)
- "What'd I Do Wrong" / "Mean Man" - Sansu 478 (1968)
- "Hook Line 'N' Sinker" / "Show It" - Sansu 479 (1968)
- "Ride Your Pony" / "Trouble With My Lover" - Sansu 480 (1968)
- "There's A Break In The Road" / "All I Want Is You" - SSS International 766 (1969)
- "Cry To Me" / "I'll Be A Liar" (reissue) - Jubilee 5658 (1963)
- Intuition (2007) - Evidence (2007)
- Soul Perfection - Action ACLP 6007 (U.K.) (1969)
- In The Saddle - Charly LP CRB 1002 (U.K.) (1980)
- Soul Perfection Plus - West Side (U.K.) (1999)
- 2004 Interview with Betty Harris
- Betty Harris article on the Funky 16 Corners web site
- The Lost Soul Queen, article on Soulexpress Radio Web site at Allmusic website
- Betty Harris at AllMusic