Pin It

A woman like Bettye LaVette 

With over five decades as a recording artist, Bettye LaVette still makes love to the music.


With a music career spanning over 50 years, Bettye LaVette doesn't miss a beat. As America's great lady of soul, she was born to sing. Her latest release, Thankful N' Thoughtful, showcases her legendary voice–sexy, raw and unhinged.

She takes the stage along with Nova Scotia Super Soul Review at Halifax Jazz Festival July 9.

"I'm almost 70 years old, of course I'm thankful. When you get old, you become thoughtful," LaVette says. "These are things that are happening to an old woman, they are happening very normally for me. No mysticism, swoony, woozy or reflective things going on. I've already done that."

While she may not be overtly sentimental, LaVette's career has been on an upswing after she released I've Got My Own Hell To Raise in 2005. LaVette has toured all over the world, seen two Grammy nominations, and sang "A Change Is Gonna Come," with Jon Bon Jovi for Barack Obama in 2009.

LaVette started singing at the age of sixteen in Detroit, and has released several albums and singles over the course of her career, including: Tell Me A Lie (Motown, 1982), Nearer To You: The SSS Recordings (Charly UK, 1990), Not Gonna Happen Twice (Motor City 1992), Souvenirs (Art & Soul, 2000), A Woman Like Me (Blues Express, 2003) and I've Got My Own Hell To Raise (Anti-, 2005).

Thankful N' Thoughtful captures the deep soul of LaVette's voice, each note sparkles with graciousness and gratitude. Each song resonates deeply within her core, and reverberates through the underbelly of her deep sea vocal range. Over five decades as a recording artist, LaVette has unmistakable panache.

Two years ago, she released an autobiography, A Woman Like Me, co-written with David Ritz, who penned books on famous R&B giants Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. Finally, LaVette's unforgettable voice, songs and story are catalogued amongst the greats. LaVette oozes charisma and sass, on and off the page. "It's a strange process. I thought it would be like doing an interview, but a book is much more involved," she says. "I had to retell the stories I've been telling myself for years now. Instead of just giving a routine answer, it all came down to the details."

On stage, she embodies the details of every song. Her entire body becomes a part of the music, she lives to dance–still squeezing into a tight dress, and shaking it under hot lights, centre stage. For LaVette, a show is meant to inspire, to encourage an audience to move and groove–to let your spirit loose.

"The relationship I have with the song I can only describe as making love," she says. "I become so intimately involved with the song, that's why no one can choose a song for me, because they can't choose who I go to bed with."

Bettye LaVette w/Nova Scotia Super Soul Review
Wednesday, July 9 at 8pm
Festival Tent

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Shannon Webb-Campbell

Survey Asks

The incoming police chief should be:

  • Chief Wiggum
  • A fan of donair
  • "From away"
  • Good cop
  • Bad cop
  • Not racist
  • Olivia Benson

View Results

The Scene

More »

In Print This Week

Vol 26, No 43
March 21, 2019

Cover Gallery »

Real Time Web Analytics

© 2019 Coast Publishing Ltd.