Three time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette is no mere singer. She is not a song writer, nor is she a “cover” artist. She is an interpreter of the highest order. Bettye is one of very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 60s and is still creating vital recordings today. To quote the late, great George Jones: “Bettye is truly a ‘singer’s singer’.” In 2016 she received the Blues Music Award for Best Soul Blues Female Artist from The Blues Foundation. She was also inducted into The Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, and she received the Unsung Heroine Award from the National R&B Music Society. In late 2016, her friend, photographer Carol Friedman, pitched Bettye the idea of doing an album of all Bob Dylan songs, with Grammy Award winning producer, Steve Jordan at the helm. Carol sold the idea to Verve Records, and in 2017 Bettye was signed to her first major label since 1982. The resulting album Things Have Changed was born. Bettye is one of those amazing artists that has a long and wild ride attached to her life and career. Do a little internet research on the timeline of her life, and all that she is, has done and continues to do to re-imagine songs.
I was honored to have a chance to spend a little time with Bettye discussing the upcoming show at the Stoughton Opera House on October 19th. We got into the band that will be on stage helping create a magical night of music, featuring most if not all of the tracks of her brand new Verve Records release, “Things Have Changed”. Bettye walks us through the process of creating this album from the birth of the idea to songs selection to final output. I know I often wonder how she does what she does with such a high degree of beautiful success. Bettye talks sincerely about how a song has to “Fit into her mouth”, for her to be able to make it work. Makes me wonder how many have been dropped because the fit was not right. We learn who recently paid her one of, if not THE largest compliment ever about one of her translations of this artists songs.It is a classic we all know and I think we both hope, Mr. Dylan will one day do the same.