Betty Davis, the funk singer whose brief but revered body of work and DIY grit inspired countless artists across several generations, died on Wednesday at the age of 77.

Davis, who was briefly married to Miles Davis, was featured on the cover of Miles’ 1968 album, Filles de Kilimanjaroand directly inspired the album’s final track, “Mademoiselle Mabry”. She is also credited with introducing the jazz great to psychedelic rock and inspiring his “electric” period, beginning with albums like 1969’s In A Silent Way and 1970’s Bitches Brew.

While the majority of her own body of work was recorded during a ten-year span in the late 1960s and early 1970s, her distinctive vocals—which slipped between sweet, sultry, and snarling to unprecedented effect—have echoed through popular music for decades.

Davis died in Homestead, PA, where she had lived since the age of ten. Born Betty Mabry, she left home for New York City at 16. While she initially focused on a modeling career, graduating from Fashion Institute of Technology and appearing in various notable magazine photo spreads (she was among the first Black models to appear in Glamour and Seventeen) she became ensconced in both the downtown folk music scene of the early ’60s and the hip crowd at the Cellar uptown.

Her first success in the music world came when she penned “Uptown (to Harlem)” for the Chambers Brothers in 1967, though at that time she remained dedicated to her modeling. When Motown Records came calling with a songwriting deal, Betty turned them down. The label wanted to own the material, and she was intent on being in the driver’s seat for every aspect of her music and image.

Uniquely attuned to her sonic and aesthetic vision, Davis once famously turned down Eric Clapton as a potential producer, seeing him as a safe choice. Instead, she frequently served as her own bandleader, songwriter, and producer—a practically unheard-of feat for a Black woman in the music business at that time.

Coalescing a “pre-punk, funk-blues fusion” that had yet to be normalized in mainstream music, Betty Davis has been seen as a prototypical figure for many of today’s biggest acts. On her five solo records, Betty Davis delighted in the primal emotion and lustful freedom of sexual liberation, a tone mirrored by everyone from Prince to Outkast to Janelle Monae, who once referred to Davis as “one of the godmothers of redefining how Black women in music can be viewed.” As another Davis disciple, Erykah Badu, once put simply, “We just grains of sand in her Bettyness.”

After Sly & The Family Stone‘s Greg Errico produced her self-titled 1973 debut album, and at the encouragement of Miles Davis, Betty wrote all the parts and produced her next two albums.

“Betty would get the ideas for the music, and she would put it on tape. She’d be humming on the cassette, and we’d learn all the parts,” Fred Mills, who played guitar in Davis’ band, Funk House, told the New York Times. “She had it in her head all the time. And she would always be, like, ‘You got to get rough!’”

“When I was writing about it, nobody was writing about it,” she said of her music’s sexual nature in a rare interview with the New York Times in 2018, decades after her last album. “But now everybody’s writing about it. It’s like a cliché.”

Following her brief burst of studio brilliance, Betty Davis disappeared from the public eye and moved back to Pennsylvania, where she lived in relative obscurity for decades without making any new music. In the 2018 New York Times interview, which came as filmmakers promoted an impressionistic documentary on Davis’ mysterious and enticing legacy, Betty: They Say I’m Different, Davis spoke about her departure from the spotlight.“When I was told that it was over, I just accepted it,” she said. “And nobody else was knocking at my door.”

Davis’ death was confirmed by her friend of 65 years, Connie Portis, in a statement. “It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of Betty Davis, a multi-talented music influencer and pioneer rock star, singer, songwriter, and fashion icon. Most of all, Betty was a friend, aunt, niece, and beloved member of her community of Homestead, Pennsylvania, and of the worldwide community of friends and fans. At a time to be announced, we will pay tribute to her beautiful, bold, and brash persona. Today we cherish her memory as the sweet, thoughtful, and reflective person she was…There is no other.”