October 17th, 2012
2012 Earshot Jazz Festival continues. Click on the schedule.
Bettye LaVette is one of the greatest soul singers in American music, possessed of an incredibly expressive voice that at one moment exudes formidable strength and intensity and at the next appears vulnerable, reflective, reeking of heartbreak. LaVette has been recording for over four decades.
Born in Muskegon, Michigan, in 1946, LaVette grew up in Detroit. LaVette is one of few soul singers who didn’t start in church. At the age of 16, with legendary Motor City music raconteur Johnnie Mae Matthews, LaVette’s first single was the insouciantly swinging “My Man – He’s a Loving Man.” LaVette next hit the charts with the Dee Dee Ford penned “Let Me Down Easy” in springtime 1965. Over the next three-plus decades LaVette cut a string of consistently strong singles for Big Wheel, Silver Fox, SSS, TCA, Atco, Epic, West End, Motown and Bar/None. To this day, “Let Me Down Easy” remains the singer’s theme song.
A buzz in the early 2000s that surrounded LaVette in soul circles caught the attention of Anti- Records president Andy Kaulkin, who signed her to a three-record deal. The resulting records – A Change is Gonna Come Sessions (2009), Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook (2010) and Thankful N’ Thoughtful (2012) – reflect the wisdom of age.
The result is a blessing to us all.