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The three albums Betty Davis released in the 1970s – “Betty Davis” in 1973, “They Say I’m Different” in 1974 and “Nasty Gal” in 1975 – were not major commercial successes, but they were profound statements of funk futurism. .
Davis, who died this month at age 77, was ahead of her time, a black woman who explored the connections between blues vocalization and funk rhythms, creating music that wouldn’t be joined until a few years — or rather a decade or two — later. She was married to Miles Davis and pushed him toward the psychedelia he explored on “Bitches Brew” and beyond. And her heirs range from Rick James and Prince to Joi and Janelle Monáe.
This week’s Popcast features a conversation about Davis’s unique music, the forces that conspired to cut her career short, and the path that led to her rediscovery.
Jon Pareles, DailyExpertNews’ chief pop music critic
Maureen Mahon, associate professor in NYU’s music department and author of “Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll”
Oliver Wang, professor of sociology at California State University, Long Beach, and the author of the liner notes on the reissues of Betty Davis’s first three albums in the late 2000s
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