Come May 26, Bettye LaVette will bring the British invasion home to its American R&B roots, looking to the past for inspiration while uncovering common ancestry in seemingly divergent musical avenues. For when it comes to baring her soul, Bettye does it in song, each one revealing a new aspect of both the song and the person singing it.
Bettye LaVette, is often compared by the music critics and cognescenti. to both Tina and Aretha, and she arrives at the Colonial Theatre on May 26 at 8pm. LaVette’s smooth and sultry voice will bring the blues to life and touch the audience’s souls.
In 1962 Bettye LaVette’s first single, “My Man–He’s a Loving Man,” was released. The record charted #7 R&B and put her on her first national tour, with Ben E. King, Clyde McPhatter and Otis Redding. There was no stopping her after that. LaVette went on to record a string of hits throughout the years, including “Let me Down Easy,” “He Made a Woman out of Me,” “Do Your Duty,” “Thank You for Loving Me,” and “Right in the Middle (Of Falling in Love).”
In 2000, two CDs of LaVette’s work were released in France and Germany. Like so many blues and jazz artists before her, it was this European embrace of LaVette’s talent that revitalized her career and brought her back into the spotlight around the world. In 2004 she won a W. C. Handy Award for Comeback Blues Album of the Year for her CD, A Woman Like Me and was eventually recognized with a Heroes and Legends Achievement in Music Award in 2010. LaVette went on to receive a 2011 Grammy Nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album for her CD, Interpretations – The British Rock Songbook. This latest CD features songs composed by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd among others.
LaVette performed at The Obama Inaugural Celebration at The Lincoln Memorial in a duet with Jon Bon Jovi in January, 2009. She also performed with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at Radio City Music Hall in New York for David Lynch Foundation’s Transcendental Meditation Benefit in April 2009. In 2010 LaVette was chosen to support Robert Plant on select dates of his US Summer Tour. She returned to Carnegie Hall in 2011 as a featured performer at the tribute event, The Music of Neil Young at Carnegie Hall. This was her third performance at the legendary hall, having previously been featured in benefits including tributes to Joni Mitchell (2006) and The Who (2010).
LaVette has also appeared on NBC’s Today Show, Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, Austin City Limits, Good Morning America, Tavis Smiley and Lopez Tonight.
On CNN.com, Peter Grumbine (Current.com) praised LaVette, stating that of “living singers who are actively releasing music now, there is no one more soulful than Bettye LaVette.”
“Ms. LaVette now rivals Aretha Franklin as her generation’s most vital soul singer.” – The New York Times
The New Yorker, regarding her standout performance of “Love Reign O’er Me,” honoring The Who at Kennedy Center Honors: “Standing in a circle of light, LaVette began in a confiding tone, and ended in a raspy, full-throated cry. The gestures she made – rolling her hands as if to gather momentum, letting her shoulders go slack in submission, slapping her hip as if to urge herself on, and raising her hands above her head to plead – were arresting, and her performance seemed startlingly authentic. Throughout, Daltrey and Townshend, and Streisand, seated beside them, nodded and shook their heads, as if listening to a galvanizing preacher. When LaVette finished, Streisand turned to Townshend and said, ‘Fantastic!’”
Tickets to Bettye LaVette at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on May 26 at 8:00 pm are $20-$55. Tickets may be purchased in person at The Colonial Theatre Ticket Office at 111 South Street Pittsfield, MA 01201 or by calling (413) 997-4444 or online at www.BerkshireTheatreGroup.org. The Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday 10am–5pm, Saturdays 10am–2pm or on any performance day from 10am until intermission.