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NOD TO THE GODS: Betty Wright, ‘Clean Up Woman’
May 25, 2014
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Each and every Sunday night when the clock hits eight, The Strombo Show takes over CBC Radio 2. It's music for music lovers by music lovers. To kick off the program, we honour the legends, the noisemakers and the ground-breakers in a segment that we like to call: Nod to the Gods.

Bessie Regina Norris began her career at the age of two, performing with her family in a gospel group. Before long she was a breakout star, recording this hit when she was only seventeen. It hit the number two spot on the R&B charts and was eventually certified Gold. Her success continued with the Grammy Award-winning proto-disco number, “Where Is The Love,” duetting with Alice Cooper and opening for Bob Marley on his Survival Tour. Her legacy has gone largely unrecognized, but in 2010 she collaborated with a host of A-list names for her album Betty Wright: The Movie, including The Roots, Joss Stone, Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and Lenny Williams. And to this day, she remains one of the few black female musicians to produce a gold record on her own vanity label.

Like any fresh and soulful song, “Clean Up Woman” has been incorporated as a sample for plenty of jams. Afrika Bambaataa, the Godfather of breakbeat DJing, used the song in his Time Zone project, it appears on Bambaataa’s single, “Zulu War Chant.” The song has also been sampled by Sublime, Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige and Chance The Rapper

Afika Bambaataa released that single around the time that he organized a concert at Wembley Stadium in London for the African National Congress with Gee Records and John Baker to celebrate Nelson Mandela's release from prison. The concert featured a slew of performances from the likes of Lou Reed, Neil Young, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Anita Baker, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Chrissie Hynde and Tracy Chapman and Stetsasonic. It was broadcast to sixty countries and considered his official international reception, nearly two months after he left Victor Verster Prison.

For further musical musings, new and old, join the collective for The Strombo Show on CBC Radio 2, every Sunday night at 8PM. And if you'd like to catch up or re-listen, all of the episodes are archived here.

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