Funk legend and reclusive musician Betty Davis is a somewhat enigmatic character. After blazing a trail during the late 1960s and early ‘70s with her shamelessly grinding funk and electrically charged performances, she disappeared from public life. Retreating away from a music scene she believed had bottomed out and underappreciated her talents, she turned her back on music. Over the years, some would try to track her down and reason with her, but those conversations were short and abruptly ended.
Eventually though, London based filmmaker Philip Cox built a strong enough bridge to earn Davis’ trust, resulting in the thrilling and poignant 2017 documentary Betty: They Say I'm Different, which played film festivals around the world to great acclaim. Alongside the Light In The Attic reissues of her epochal ‘70s albums, the documentary re-lit the flame of interest in her work and brought much deserved love and recognition to the unique music that she produced.
Against all the odds though, this week sees the release of a song written by Davis for the first time since her halcyon days of the 1970s. Pittsburgh ethnomusicologist Danielle Maggio got to know Davis via Cox and a budding friendship was struck up, eventually leading Davis to write, produce and arrange "A Little Bit Hot Tonight" for her to release.
With Maggio supplying her vocals alongside smoother edges than you might associate with Davis' catalogue, it carries the influence of Japanese jazz musician Itsuroh Shimoda and marks more than 40 years since Davis has released new music.
All profits from the sale of the downloadable track will be given to the Betty Davis Scholarship, an annual award for a graduating senior who is pursuing music at Steel Valley High School, Davis’ alma mater.
Whether it is an isolated moment or the sign of things to come, “A Little Bit Hot Tonight” demands your attention. Betty Davis is not just different—she is a force of nature.