Born on November 23, 1939, in Greenwood, MS; died August 19, 2001, in Beloit, WI.
"The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in his Kiss)" was first recorded by Betty Everett, and is the song for which she is best known. During the 1960s and 1970s, Everett's powerful voice recorded a string of rhythm and blues hits.
Betty Everett was born on November 23, 1939, in Greenwood, Mississippi, an area known at the time for its local blues scene. She was playing the piano and singing in church by the age of nine, and also sang in gospel choirs. She was in her late teens when she moved to Chicago, Illinois, in 1956, where she turned her attention from gospel music to singing rhythm and blues.
Everett started recording for several small local record labels. In 1957 she recorded "My Life Depends on You" for Cobra. She then signed with C.J., followed by the One-Derful label. While contracted with One-Derful she recorded "I've Got a Claim on You," and "I'll Be There." She had the honor of performing with Magic Sam and the legendary Muddy Waters. She also briefly sang the lead for the all-male group the Daylighters, and together they produced a minor hit, "Why Did You Have To Go?" In 1963 she was signed to Vee-Jay, which at the time also had the American rights for releases by the Beatles. While with Vee-Jay, she had a number of hits, including "You're No Good," which just missed the Top 50 in late 1963. A year later, a Liverpool band called the Swinging Blue Jeans covered it and the song became a smash hit. The song later became a number one hit when Linda Ronstadt recorded it in 1975. Everett also put out an album titled You're No Good in 1964. "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in his Kiss)," written by Rudy Clark and produced by Calvin Carter, made the Billboard Top Ten in 1964. At a time of popularity for girl groups, including the Shirelles, the Ronettes, and similar groups who infused gospel and soul into pop, Everett's success placed her firmly within this group of singers.
Duos were very popular at the time, and Everett teamed up with another of Vee-Jay's artists named Jerry Butler, a Mississippi native who had made a name for himself in Chicago, and whose style of rhythm and blues had earned him the nickname "The Iceman." The two covered a romantic, soulful rendition of "Let It Be Me," previously recorded by the Everly Brothers. The Everett/Butler version became a top five hit in 1964. This was followed by another duet, "Smile," also in 1964, which just missed the top 40. They recorded an album together in 1964, entitled Delicious Together, which hit the charts at 104.
During the mid-1960s Everett toured England and successfully developed a fan base for her music. In 1965 she recorded on her own, providing the energetic "I Can't Hear You" and "Getting Mighty Crowded." The latter, a punchy Van McCoy song, was her first chart entry in the United Kingdom at number 29.
During the 1960s Vee-Jay Records struggled with financial difficulties and eventually collapsed in 1967. Everett then signed with ABC-Paramount Records. Her success with ABC was limited, although she produced the single "Love Comes Tumbling Down." She then switched to Uni, where she recorded the album There'll Come a Time. The title song reached number two on the rhythm and blues chart in 1969 and hit number 26 on the pop charts. She also recorded "I Can't Say No to You" and "It's Been a Long Time," remaining with Uni until 1970. She then signed with Fantasy Records and recorded "I Got to Tell Somebody." She recorded with Fantasy until 1974.
During the 1970s Everett worked the club circuit in the United States and Europe. She also worked with the prestigious arranger Gene Page and recorded Love Rhymes in 1974 and Happy Endings in 1975. Her last chart entry was in 1978 with "True Love (You Took My Heart)," which she recorded for United Artists. In the mid-1980s she moved to Beloit, Wisconsin, where she was active in the Fountain of Life and New Covenant churches, as well as with the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 1995 she received a Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, and was joined on stage by her former partner Jerry Butler to sing "Let It Be Me." The Boston Globe reported that Everett was nearly in tears onstage as she accepted her award.
Everett's last public appearance was a performance in 2000 on the PBS special Doo Wop 51, a program that honored the great a capella groups of the 1950s and 1960s. The Independent of London, England, stated, "Partnered by her old friend Jerry Butler, she reportedly brought the house down." Her attorney, Jay B. Ross, accompanied her to the show. "She was nervous because she hadn't performed in quite a while," he stated on the VH1 website. "But once she got into it and saw how much the audience loved her, she just blossomed, and the audience just went nuts."
Throughout her life, Everett continually stated that singing and playing the piano were her two favorite activities. For most of her life she lived very modestly, until she began to gain from her royalties near the end of her life. She won BMI Awards for "Hands Off," "I Need You So," "It's All Right," and "It's in his Kiss."
Everett died on August 19, 2001, at the age of 61. Family members found her at her home at 241 W. Grand Avenue in Beloit, Wisconsin. Her cause of death was not reported to the public.
"The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in his Kiss)" is the song for which she is best remembered, and it was covered by many artists in the decades that followed her original recording. Linda Lewis revived it in 1975 for a top ten hit in the United Kingdom. In 1990, nearly 27 years after Everett first recorded it, Cher recorded her own version of "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in his Kiss)" for the soundtrack of her hit movie Mermaids. Vonda Shepard later covered the song for the Fox television show Ally McBeal. Everett will long be recognized as one of the top soul singers of the 1960s and 1970s.
by Sarah Parkin
Betty Everett's Career
Moved to Chicago, IL, to pursue singing career, 1956; performed with Magic Sam and Muddy Waters, late 1950s; sang lead for the Daylighters; released single "You're No Good," 1963, and album You're No Good, 1964; released "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in his Kiss)," 1964; released "Let It Be Me" with Jerry Butler, 1964; recorded Delicious Together with Jerry Butler, 1964; released "I Can't Hear You" and "Getting Mighty Crowded," 1965; "There'll Come a Time," 1969; Love Rhymes, 1974; Happy Endings,1975; appeared on PBS special Doo Wop 51, 2000.
Betty Everett's Awards
BMI Pop Award, "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in his Kiss)," 1964; BMI R&B Award, 1964; BMI Pop Award, "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in his Kiss)," 1991; R&B Foundation Pioneer Award, 1995.
- Selected discography
- "My Life Depends on You," Cobra, 1957.
- "Ain't Gonna Cry," Cobra, 1958.
- "Tell Me Darling," Cobra, 1959.
- "I've Got a Claim on You," One-Derful, 1963.
- "By My Side," Vee-Jay, 1963.
- "Getting Mighty Crowded," Vee-Jay, 1964.
- "I'll Be There," One-Derful, 1964.
- (With Jerry Butler) "Smile," Vee-Jay, 1964.
- (With Jerry Butler) "Let it Be Me," Vee-Jay, 1964.
- "You're No Good," Vee-Jay, 1964.
- "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in his Kiss)," Vee-Jay, 1964.
- (With Jerry Butler) "Fever," Vee-Jay, 1965.
- "Too Hot to Hold," Vee-Jay, 1965.
- "The Shoe Won't Fit," Vee-Jay, 1966.
- "In Your Arms," ABC, 1967.
- "Bye Bye Baby," ABC, 1967.
- "Love Comes Tumbling Down," ABC, 1967.
- "I Can't Say," ABC, 1967.
- "Been a Long Time," Uni, 1969.
- "Sugar," Uni, 1969.
- "Unlucky Girl," Uni, 1970.
- "There'll Come a Time," Uni, 1969.
- You're No Good Vee-Jay, 1964.
- (With Jerry Butler) Delicious Together Vee-Jay, 1964.
- The Very Best of Betty Everett Vee-Jay, 1965.
- There'll Come a Time Uni, 1969.
- Black Girl Fantasy, 1974.
- Love Rhymes Fantasy, 1974.
- Happy Endings Fantasy, 1975.
- Getting Mighty Crowded Charly, 1980.
- Too Hot to Hold Charly, 1982.
- The Real Thing Charly, 1987.
- The Fantasy Years Fantasy, 1995.
- The Best of Betty Everett: Let it Be Me Aim, 1998.
- Clarke, Donald, editor, Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Penguin, 1989.
- Gregory, Hugh, Soul Music A-Z, Blandford, 1991.
- Hardy, Phil and Dave Laing, Encyclopedia of Rock, Schirmer, 1988.
- Larkin, Colin, editor, Encyclopedia of Popular Music, MUZE, 1998.
- Nite, Norm N., Rock On Volume II, Thomas Y. Crowell, 1978.
- Boston Globe, March 2, 1996, p. 27.
- Daily Telegraph (London, England), August 23, 2001.
- Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), September 8, 2001, p. 14.
- Independent (London, England), August 23, 2001.
- Times (London, England), September 17, 2001, p. 23.
- USA Today, March 4, 1995; February 22, 1996, p. 1.D; August 21, 2001, p. D01.
- Wisconsin State Journal, August 22, 2001, p. D1.
- "Betty Everett," BMI, http://repertoire.bmi.com (February 4, 2004).
- "Betty Everett," The Iceberg, http://www.icebergradio.com/artist.asp?artist=3334 (January 20, 2004).
- "Betty Everett," MSN Entertainment, http://www.entertainment.msn.com (January 20, 2004).
- "Betty Everett," VH1, http://www.vh1.com/artists/az/everett_betty/artist.jhtml?_requestid=100282 (February 5, 2004).