Born in Greenwood, Mississippi, in 1939, Betty Everett was playing piano and singing in church by the age of nine. In 1957, she moved to Chicago where she cut religious songs for small labels before being discovered by Calvin Carter of Vee-Jay Records in 1963.
That same year her second single for Vee-Jay, You’re No Good, almost cracked the Top 50.
In 1964 her third single, The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss), was a massive hit, reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Cashbox R&B chart.
Later that year, I Can’t Hear You and a duet with Jerry ‘Iceman’ Butler called Let It Be Me both charted. The latter at #5.
Betty had her second-biggest solo hit after Vee-Jay folded; There’ll Come A Time, co-written by Eugene Record of The Chi-Lites, made #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969.
The 1970 singles I Got To Tell Somebody (with Carter again producing) and It’s Been A Long Time were R&B hits, but Everett couldn’t match her earlier successes.
She moved to Fantasy Records for two LPs, Love Rhymes (1974) and Happy Endings (1975), where she covered The Beach Boys‘ God Only Knows.
Her recording career was all but over by 1980. She had moved to Wisconsin and started working with the non-profit Rhythm & Blues Foundation when Cher‘s version of The Shoop Shoop Song charted in 1991.
People began calling radio stations and asking for the original and the interest in Everett’s music allowed her to secure a new label deal, schedule TV appearances and book big concerts (including a headlining set at the 1991 Chicago Blues Festival).
Poor health and stage fright ultimately kept her from making the most of these opportunities.
She made her last appearance in 2000 on a PBS special with Jerry Butler and passed away on 19 August 2001.