Fashion icon Betty Davis dies at 77

Betty Davis, a fiery funk artist who helped establish elegant Afrofuturist strains of funk and hip-hop, died on Wednesday in Homestead, Penn.

Danielle Maggio, a producer of Betty Davis: They Say I'm Different, told NPR that Davis died last week of cancer. Davis, 77.

Betty Mabry, born in New York, studied fashion design and modelled for designers and magazines including Seventeen and Glamour. She was experimenting with a rock, soul, funk, and blues fusion.

Betty Davis released her self-titled debut solo album in 1973. For a Black woman at the time, writing, arranging, and producing her own music was unheard of.

Her voice was strong and seductive, commanding your attention. Two additional albums followed: They Say I'm Different and Nasty Gal.

In 1968, she married Miles Davis, whom she introduced to Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and Sly Stone.

Their union did not last. Betty revealed in a 2010 interview with The Observer's Neil Spencer that she and Miles "broke up due of his violent temper."

By the late '70s, Davis had mostly faded from view. Davis was significantly more restrained offstage than she was on record or stage.

An interview she had in 1974 with an Army Reserve DJ named Al Gee, she talked about making conscious music business choices.

"I've known many musicians and understand their struggles," she remarked. "I know how much they've suffered. I had to declare, "OK, this is what I want to do, and why.""

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