Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the great soul interpreters of her generation”, Bettye LaVette is a vocalist who can take any type of song and make it completely her own. To quote the late, great George Jones, “Bettye is truly a singer’s singer”.
Her career began in 1962, at the age of 16, in Detroit, Michigan. Her first single “My Man – He’s a Loving Man”, was released on Atlantic Records. This led to tours with headliners such as Ben E. King, Clyde McPhatter and then up-and-comer, Otis Redding. She recorded for numerous major labels, including Atco, Epic, and Motown, over the course of the 1960s through the 1980s. She also worked alongside Charles “Honi” Coles and Cab Calloway in the touring company of the Toni Award winning musical, Bubbling Brown Sugar.
The 2000’s started what she calls her “Fifth Career”. Her CD, A Woman Like Me, won the W.C. Handy Award in 2004 for Comeback Blues Album of the Year. She was also given a prestigious Pioneer Award by The Rhythm & Blues Foundation, was inducted into the Detroit Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, given an Unsung Award by the National R&B Society, and inducted into The Blues Hall of Fame by the Blues Foundation. She has received Blues Music Awards for Best Contemporary Female Blues Singer and Best Soul Blues Female Artist. Since 2002, she has released 8 albums, 5 of which have received Grammy nominations.
In 2017, she signed with Verve Records and has since recorded 2 albums, both of which were produced by Steve Jordan, were critically acclaimed, and received Grammy nominations. The first was Things Have Changed, an album consisting of all Bob Dylan songs. Her latest, Blackbirds, is Bettye’s homage to the Black female singers of the 1950s who came before her.
Fans, critics and artists have nothing but high praise for her live show and her vocal prowess. Now, at 75 years old and in her 59th year in show business, she is still performing with the ferocity of a woman half her age. She is one of very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 1960s and is still creating vital recordings today.