“Singing is like breathing to me…..
I have to do it !”
Equating singing to breathing is completely reasonable, when it’s coming from Beth Griffith-Manley, singer, songwriter, actress and daughter of Johnny Griffith, the legendary and Multi-Grammy® Award-winning pianist/keyboardist. He was an original member of the Funk Brothers, Motown’s in-house studio band that created the famous ‘Motown Sound.’
Beth’s father was one of only a few classically-trained musicians who worked at Motown. The late Johnny Griffith played on hundreds of Motown songs, including top hits such as, “Stop, In The Name Of Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “What’s Going On,” “Dancin’ In The Streets,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Shotgun.” He also played keys on several non-Motown records, including: “Lonely Teardrops,” “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher,” “Have You Seen Her?” and “Cool Jerk.” At age 16, he played with blues superstar John Lee Hooker, and as a young man in the 1960s, he toured with Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin and Sarah Vaughan.
Being a young girl in a house filled with such musical brilliance day in and day out, it’s no wonder that Beth’s own musical interests peaked early. At age 5, she began learning how to play the piano alongside her father, and it was evident then, that music was in her DNA. At age 12, her interest in singing sprouted when she joined the choir in junior high school, and it blossomed throughout her high school years.
Beth’s teenage vocals were coached and nurtured by Cheryl Valentine at Beaubien Jr. High, then by notable teacher and director, Deirdre Jackson-Thompson at Mumford High School. Jackson-Thompson was also vocal coach and mentor to The Winans family, The Clark Sisters and members of the famous gospel group, Commissioned.
Even though her father was an extremely successful musician, and Beth’s natural vocal talents were undeniable, Johnny Griffith encouraged his daughter not to pursue music professionally, because he felt the business was too hurtful and unfair. Both of Beth’s parents were strict when it came work and education, and insisted that she work summer jobs in order to buy what she wanted, and that she earn a college degree.
While she attended college, Beth sang in various bands, and also worked at Ford Motor Company. Just as her parents had hoped, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Information Systems and Business Administration and Management from the University of Phoenix.
In 2006, Beth was tabbed to perform an inspiring and timeless duet, “Reach Out Everyone,” alongside the late Ali “Ollie” Woodson, legendary singer of the Temptations. The song and video were inspired by natural disasters, and supported the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.
Shortly after, she provided background vocals for Grammy® Award-winning gospel singer Yolanda Adams’ Christmas album, What A Wonderful Time and in 2008 Beth’s vocals were featured on Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famer, Dave Mason’s project, 26 Letters, 12 Notes on the song, “How Do I Get to Heaven.”
She then had the opportunity to tour with 8-time Grammy® Award-winning songstress, Anita Baker as a background vocalist for five years, performing all over the world in some of the most prestigious venues in the world, including the Royal Albert Hall in London, Radio City Music Hall in New York, and arenas in South Africa, Nigeria, Trinidad and throughout the Caribbean.
Beth shared the stage at the “Tribute to Motown” show at Carnegie Hall, alongside Dionne Warwick, Anita Baker, Martha Reeves, Melba Moore, Boyz II Men, Dennis Edwards, Bebe Winans, and Paul Shaffer as a featured lead and background vocalist. The historic sold-out concert was produced and directed by renowned Music Director, Ray Chew.
She began touring with 3-time Grammy® Award-nominated, Motown Recording Artist, KEM in 2013, providing background vocals as well as performing duets and featured solos around the world. Beth is a background vocalist on KEM’s Intimacy, What Christmas Means and Promise To Love albums, and continues to tour with him.
Beth holds a product endorsement from Lewitt Audio and performed on their sponsored stage at the 2014 N.A.M.M (National Association of Music Merchants) Music Conference in Anaheim, California.
Beth has also had the privilege of having performed at the Michigan Inaugural Balls held in Washington D.C. for President Barack Obama’s 1st and 2nd terms, as well as for President Bill Clinton and President-Elect, Donald Trump.
In addition to her roles as a vocalist, Beth is a member of SAG-AFTRA and has held several stage and screen acting roles. Among them, Church Girl and Chosen (stage) and Five Year Engagement and This Must Be The Place (film), as well as performing for numerous television and radio commercials.
Her most memorable moment on stage was being cast in the 2011 remake of the movie, “Sparkle” as the stand-in and body-double for Whitney Houston, during filming in Detroit in 2011.
Beth was a principle vocalist on “Dancing With The Stars, Season 22 – Icons Night,” and has also provided her voice to the television shows: “Ash vs. Evil Dead” on the Starz Network, “Glee Project” on the OWN Network and “American Bible Challenge” on the Game Show Network (GSN).
Beth released her debut single, “Pillow Talk” at the top of the year and received great reviews. Her much anticipated debut album “Free” is available now on all digital outlets. Both are released on her label Anise Records. Currently, Beth continues to tour worldwide with KEM.
“My Heart is steadfast, O God, I will sing and make music with all my soul.”
– Psalms 108-1
“A voice like this only comes
around once in a lifetime….
-Michael J. Powell