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Betty Who

Putting her own joyous stamp on pop styles from the '80s onward, Betty Who makes big-hearted songs in the tradition of Whitney Houston, Robyn, and Katy Perry. The Australian singer/songwriter's viral success with the 2012 single "Somebody Loves You" and EPs like 2013's The Movement led to major-label releases including 2017's The Valley. By the time of 2019's Betty, she was back to being an independent artist with a wide range of strengths. She continued to branch out in the 2020s, hosting the dating show The One That Got Away and releasing albums such as 2022's Big!, which reaffirmed the positivity and inclusivity that helped make her an LGBTQ+ icon. Born Jessica Anne Newham in Sydney, she began playing cello at age four and later picked up piano and guitar. When she was a teenager, she and her parents moved to America so she could attend the Interlochen Center for the Arts performing arts school. During this time, she began writing and performing her own songs. She then went to the Berklee College of Music for more training as a cellist, but wanted to focus on being a singer/songwriter. While at Berklee, Who 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. Upon its release late in 2012 as a free download, the single earned online acclaim and was remixed by FM Attack. Who's self-released debut EP, The Movement, arrived in April 2013 and reached number 22 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. The EP included "Somebody Loves You," which topped Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart the following March. The Movement's success led to a deal with RCA Records, and Who made her debut for the label with the Slow Dancing EP in April 2014. A more polished effort that expanded on Who's brassy style with R&B-inspired production and more introspective songwriting, it reached number 57 on Billboard's Hot 100 Albums chart. That October, she followed it with her debut album, Take Me When You Go, which featured production by Thomas as well as Starsmith, Claude Kelly, and Martin Johnson and peaked at number 68 on the Hot 100. In February 2015, "All of You" became Who's second single to reach number one on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart. After spending much of 2015 on the road and appearing on Troye Sivan's album Blue Neighbourhood, she returned in June 2016 with a soulful cover of Donna Lewis' 1996 single "I Love You Always Forever," which became her third number one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and reached number six on Australia's ARIA Singles Chart. She followed it that November with the tropical-tinged "Human Touch." Who reunited with Thomas and also worked with producers including Pop & Oak, Mstr Rogers, and Robopop on her second album, 2017's The Valley, which reflected her move to L.A. in its variety of styles; it reached number 58 on the Australian charts and hit number 105 in the U.S. Later in 2017, Who became an independent artist once more when she left RCA Records. The following January, she issued the single "Ignore Me" and followed it with covers of Kylie Minogue's "Come into My World" and Widelife's "All Things (Just Keep Getting Better)," the latter of which was used as the theme song to the second season of Netflix's reboot of Queer Eye. Following the Lemaitre collaboration "Rocket Girl" and a cameo on Don Diablo's Future, that June's Betty, Pt. 1 EP provided a preview of her third album. Arriving in February 2019, the simply named Betty featured some of Who's widest-ranging music. Produced by Thomas and Pretty Sister, the album reached number 24 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart. That year also saw her work with Fly By Midnight on the single "Lovely" and lend her vocals to Matt Simons' album After the Landslide. Aside from releasing the 2020 holiday single "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays," Betty Who spent most of the COVID-19 global pandemic writing material for her next album and recording with Take Me When You Go producer Johnson. In mid-2022, she made her reality TV debut as the host of Amazon Studios' dating show The One That Got Away and also appeared on an episode of Kesha's supernatural-themed reality series Conjuring Kesha. That October saw the release of Who's fourth album Big! A more personal set of songs than some of her previous work, the album explored body image, self-esteem, and growing older.
© Heather Phares /TiVo


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