Betty Harris (born 1939, Orlando, Florida, United States) is an American soul singer. Her recording career in the 1960s produced three hit singles that made the US Billboard R&B and Billboard Hot 100 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, Harris' rendition turned the song into a Billboard Hot 100 number 23 hit, with a corresponding number 10 listing on the R&B chart, and it became a deep soul classic. A total of three further singles including a reissue of "Cry to Me" were released on Jubilee, also produced by Bert Berns, with "His Kiss", which was released on January 4, 1964, 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 Allen Toussaint. Her recording with Sansu produced ten 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 number 85). However, practically all of her recordings for Sansu, uptempo tunes and ballads alike, featuring Toussaint's raw yet sophisticated Southern soul arrangements behind Harris' 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 up-tempo tracks; "Can't Last Much Longer" and "What'd I Do Wrong", emotive deep soul ballads.
Harris retired from performing in 1970 to raise a family.All of the Sansu recordings were compiled into an album released in the UK (but not the US) 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 Harris recordings, titled Soul Perfection Plus, was released in 1999 by the UK re-release label, West Side.In 2005, Harris returned to the music industry after a long absence.
She has made several public appearances in the US and Europe, including the 2007 Porretta Soul Festival in Italy, and has recorded a new album, Intuition.Harris toured Australia in 2006 and appeared on the TV show RocKwiz, where she performed "Cry to Me", and a duet of "Love Lots Of Lovin'" with the Australian singer John Paul Young.
DiscographyUS singles1962 "Taking Care of Business" "Yesterday's Kisses" Douglas 1041963 "Cry to Me" "I'll Be A Liar" Jubilee 54561964 "His Kiss" "It's Dark Outside" Jubilee 54651964 "Mojo Hannah" "Now Is The Hour" Jubilee 54801965 "What A Sad Feeling" "I'm Evil Tonight" Sansu 4501966 "I Don't Want to Hear It" "Sometime" Sansu 4521966 "Twelve Red Roses" "What'd I Do Wrong" Sansu 4551967 "Lonely Hearts" "Bad Luck" Sansu 4611967 "Nearer to You" "I'm Evil Tonight" Sansu 4661967 "Can't Last Much Longer" "I'm Gonna Git Ya" Sansu 4711968 "Love Lots of Lovin'" "Take Care of Our Love"(with Lee Dorsey) Sansu 4741968 "What'd I Do Wrong" "Mean Man" Sansu 4781968 "Hook Line 'N' Sinker" "Show It" Sansu 4791968 "Ride Your Pony" "Trouble With My Lover" Sansu 4801969 "There's A Break in The Road" "All I Want Is You" SSS International 766Albums2007 Intuition EvidenceVinyl compilations1969 Soul Perfection Action (UK) ACLP 60071980 In The Saddle Charly (UK) CRB 1002Compilation CD1999 Soul Perfection Plus West Side (UK) WESA 807
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