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).
“Betty Everett – Shoop Shoop Song (it’s in his kiss)”