“BETTY: THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT”— She was the First


She was the First

Amos Lassen

Funk Queen Betty Davis changed the landscape for female artists in America. Beginning as an aspiring songwriter from a small steel town, Betty came on the 70’s scene to break boundaries for women. She used her personality, fashion and outrageous funk music to do so. She befriended Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone, wrote songs for the Chambers Brothers and the Commodores, and married Miles. Her funk music caused her to be banned and boycotted yet despite that she went on to become the first black woman to perform, write and manage herself. Betty was a feminist pioneer both inspiring and intimidating unlike any woman before her. Then she suddenly disappeared.

This documentary uses live action and animation to traces her life. She grew from humble upbringings to become a fully self-realized black female pioneer the world failed to understand or appreciate. Now after years of trying, Betty  finally allowed the filmmakers to tell her story based on their conversations.

One of Davis’ friends describes how the singer’s daring dance moves and pronounced sex appeal made white America sweat during the civil rights struggle. Unfortunately, Davis’ provocative personality also attracted a lot of unwanted media attention and eventually forced her into hiding. In late 2012, director Phil Cox and his team discovered Davis living modestly in Pittsburgh.

At a very young age Betty Mabry (her maiden name), started writing songs about freedom, pain and being a woman and a unique human at that. She has had difficult decades after her withdrawal from the music industry. She is writing again and her message of the past and her actual struggle for life has something important to say to many. This is much more than a music documentary; it is a look at life.

Bonus Materials

Director Interview: Phil Cox on the making of Betty – They Say I’m Different 

Interview Extract with Betty Davis

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