Bettye LaVette is a true legend with a musical career spanning more than 50 years, she is now rightly recognized as one of the finest vocalists and one of the great interpreters of song. Her discography spans five decades, but it is within the past decade that she has finally been recognized as one of America’s finest vocal talents.
The story behind Bettye LaVette’s Blackbirds is similar to many albums that were due for release in 2020. It was her sophomore record for Verve. It was an album of mostly songs that were associated with female R&B singers who came before her: Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson, etc. Steve Jordan, who Produced her Things Have Changed album of Bob Dylan songs, was again on board as Producer and drummer.
Betty Jo Haskins was born January 29,1946, in Muskegon, Michigan. The afamily moved to Detroit when she was six years old. Her parents sold corn liquor and her living room was oft-times visited by The Soul Stirrers, The Blind Boys of Mississippi, and many other traveling gospel groups of the day. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Bettye did not get her start in the church, but in that very same living room, where there was a jukebox, filled with the blues, country & western, and R&B records of the time. The “5” Royales, Dinah Washington, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Red Foley, …these were her roots.