Betty Everett (November 23, 1939 – August 19, 2001) was an American soul singer and pianist, best known for her biggest hit single, the million-selling “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)”.
Everett began playing the piano and singing gospel music in church at the age of nine. She moved to Chicago in 1957 to pursue a career in secular music.
She recorded for various small local Chicago soul labels, before she was signed in 1963 by Calvin Carter, A&R musical director of fast-growing independent label Vee-Jay Records.
An initial single failed, but her second Vee-Jay release, a bluesy version of “You’re No Good” (written by Clint Ballard, Jr. and later a #1 hit for Linda Ronstadt), just missed the U.S. top 50. Her next single, the catchy “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)”, was her biggest solo hit.
The Rudy Clark song climbed to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and made #1 on the Cashbox R&B chart for three weeks.
Her other hits included “I Can’t Hear You” (covered by numerous artists, including Dusty Springfield, Helen Reddy, and others), “Getting Mighty Crowded” (covered by Elvis Costello in 1980), and several duets with Jerry Butler, including “Let It Be Me”, which made the US Top 5 in 1964 and was another Cashbox R&B number 1.
After Vee-Jay folded in 1966, she recorded for several other labels, including ABC, Fantasy, and Uni.
After an unsuccessful year with ABC, a move to Uni brought another major success in 1969 with “There’ll Come A Time”, co-written by producer and lead singer of the Chi-Lites, Eugene Record.
This rose to #2 in the Billboard R&B listing (#26 on the Hot 100) and topped the Cashbox chart. However, most of her later work would not match the success she had with Vee-Jay, although there were other R&B hits such as “It’s Been A Long Time” and “I Got To Tell Somebody”, which re-united her with Calvin Carter in 1970.
The 1975 album Happy Endings had arrangements by Gene Page and includes a cover of “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys.
Her final recording came out in 1980, again produced by Carter. Her awards include the BMI Pop Award (both for 1964 and 1991) and the BMI R&B Award (for 1964).
Living with her sister from the 1980s until her death, Everett resided in South Beloit, Illinois, where she was involved in the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and the churches of the Fountain of Life and New Covenant.
In 1989, a personal manager of Everett at the time brought her to the attention of Worldwide TMA, a management consulting firm in Chicago under the direction of Steve Arvey and Scott Pollack, former Chairman of The Chicago Songwriters Association, and started work on reviving Everett’s singing career.
In 1990, her signature hit, “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s in His Kiss)” had been used in the movie, Mermaids for the end credits, recorded by the star of the film, Cher.
This reached #1 in the United Kingdom and charted well elsewhere in Europe. An article appeared in a British Sunday newspaper The Mail On Sunday with the headline reading; “Betty Everett Gets Her “Cher” Of A Hit”.
Fans (according to the article in The Mail On Sunday) were calling the London radio stations asking for the original to be played instead.
Everett had secured an indie label deal in the USA and a new single “Don’t Cry Now” had been recorded, penned by Larry Weiss (Trumpet Records, unreleased).
In connection to the preceding events, Everett was booked and aired a 20-minute appearance on the hit TV show at the time, Current Affair.
She was then booked to star at the 1991 Chicago Blues Festival which aired live worldwide on over 400 PBS radio channels, marking Everett’s last live appearance on radio. Later that year, two concerts were booked for consecutive weekends in late October 1991; one at Trump’s Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, the other at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles.
All had been arranged through management and Charles McMillan, Jerry Butler’s longtime friend and personal manager. However, Everett declined to show for the engagements. Despite exposure, she was unable to resurrect her career because of health issues.
She was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Hall Of Fame in 1996 and, about four years later, made her last public appearance on the PBS special Doo Wop 51, along with her former singing partner, Jerry Butler.
This, according to The Independent (c. August 2001), was met with raves about the brief reunion where she “brought the house down”.
Butler, in his autobiography, “Only The Strong Survive”, compared Betty with Gladys Knight as a singer in that she seemed to do everything so effortlessly.
Everett died at her home in South Beloit, Illinois, on August 19, 2001; she was 61.
Several of Betty Everett’s tunes have been recorded by other artists, including the following:
It’s In His Kiss (The Shoop Shoop Song): Cher, Kate Taylor, Sandie Shaw, Helen Shapiro, Aretha Franklin, The Nylons, Kate Taylor featuring James Taylor, Linda Lewis, Vonda Shepard, Bootleg Family Band, The Searchers, The Hollies (as “It’s in Her Kiss), Clifters, Ramona King
I Can’t Hear You No More: Dusty Springfield, Helen Reddy, Lulu
Chained To A Memory (B-side of Getting Mighty Crowded): Dusty Springfield, Samantha Jones, Cynthia Schloss
You’re No Good: Linda Ronstadt, Van Halen, Aswad, Michael Bolton as Michael Bolotin, Ellie Campbell, Elvis Costello, Dusty Springfield, Frankie Rose and the Outs, Jose Feliciano, Keith Hampshire, Jill Johnson, Lulu, Reba McEntire, The Muppets, Rosie and the Originals, Floortje Smit, Ike & Tina Turner, Van Halen (on Van Halen II) and Wild Orchid. And the band Pot Liquor, Wilson Phillips.