Betty Who kicks off PrideFest 2017 on Friday, June 9 at the Miller Mainstage.
Australian-born pop singer Betty Who makes vivacious yet bittersweet music that calls to mind divas such as Whitney Houston, Robyn, and Katy Perry.
Born Jessica Anne Newham in Sydney, she began playing cello, piano, and guitar as a child, and moved to America with her parents when she was a teenager to attend the Interlochen Center for the Arts performing arts school.
She then went to the Berklee College of Music for more training as a cellist, but really wanted to focus on being a singer/songwriter (she began performing her own songs at age 16).
While at Berklee, she met producer Peter Thomas, and the pair began writing and recording material together. Drawing inspiration from the songwriting skills of Joni Mitchell and Carole King and the epic synth pop of M83 and MGMT, they came up with a sound that was equally nostalgic and contemporary on songs like “Somebody Loves You,” which Who wrote shortly after Houston’s death. The song became the first single from Who’s self-released debut EP, The Movement, which arrived in April 2013.
A year later, she returned with the Slow Dancing EP, a slightly more polished effort that found Who expanding on her brassy style with R&B-inspired production and more introspective songwriting.
In October 2014, Who released her first full-length Take Me When You Go, which featured production by Thomas as well as Starsmith, Claude Kelly and Martin Johnson. ~ Heather Phares
On 3 June 2016, Who released a cover of Donna Lewis‘ hit 1996 single “I Love You Always Forever,” produced by her frequent collaborator and former schoolmate Peter Thomas. Who’s cover was recorded after being encouraged by a record label executive, mentioned in conversation after rediscovering the original version a few years prior.
When asked as if this was the first offering from her upcoming second studio album, she commented “I was desperate to put out new music and it is really a kind of exhausting and sometimes impossibly-busy process to try and get a song out into the world. ‘I Love You Always Forever’ was sort of like a peace offering…,” implying that it was a release independent from the album. However, this proved false when the album’s track listing was made available and the song was included.