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Bettye LaVette is not a songwriter. She is a singer in the tradition of great vocalists who have come before her: Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Dinah Washington, to name a few. LaVette is an interpreter of the highest order. Her gift is being able to take a song from any genre, whether well-known or obscure, and making it completely her own. She will take a writer’s lyric and alter it so that the words come out sounding like something that she would say. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Bruce Springsteen are just some of the artists who have had their work reimagined by Bettye. To quote another great vocalist, the late George Jones, “Bettye is truly a ‘singer’s singer’.”
The Bettye LaVette Duo features Bettye and her keyboard player, Evan Mercer. These intimate shows allow her voice to be the complete center of attention. They feature LaVette performing songs from throughout her fifty-five-year career, including songs that she used to perform in small Detroit clubs before her twenty-first-century resurgence began. Many of these songs she does not perform with her full band. LaVette has always said that just a voice and one instrument is all you need to sell a song. Hearing Bettye LaVette in this intimate setting, stripped down to just her voice and a piano, is a very intense and moving experience.
Bettye is truly a ‘singer’s singer’.
What Bettye does is extremely theatrical. . . . She is a dramatist. It’s not like she is up onstage simply singing songs; they are theatrical set pieces.
—Andy Kaulkin, Head of ANTI- Records
When you hear a voice like Bettye Lavette’s, there’s a sense of transportation . . . a certain freedom of movement and emotion that is rare.