Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

The soul of Soul

Today I’m going to go to someone who has been in the national

Love you too, Bettye.

Love you too, Bettye.

spotlight recently, but I was surprised to find many of my friends don’t know who she is. Bettye Lavette has been in the music business since the early sixties and has had an interesting career, flirting with fame and wide popularity but never quite going over the top. Last month, she performed a duet with Jon Bon Jovi at one of the Obama Inaugural celebrations. To give you some idea of what she does, here she is performing Love Reign O’er Me at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008. Pete Townshend at least, and perhaps Roger Daltry are visibly moved.

The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl saw her rehearse this performance and said, “We showed up for rehearsal, and one of the performers was rehearsing the song for the Who segment. It was a woman named Bettye LaVette… She is gonna steal the show. She was so phenomenal, this performance of The Who song that she did. It will bring you to tears. The room was pin-drop silent when she did this song, and it was just unbelievable.”

Her 2005 release,
I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, is full of brilliant reinterpretations ( I won’t call them simply “covers”) of an interesting mix of songs from Joan Armatrading, Sinead O’Connor, Aimee Mann, and others. Like other artists who perform a lot of other people’s songs (think Joan Osborne), a lot of her success depends on picking songs that she can really sink her teeth into and this album has a full spread of great songs.

I’m going to recommend six songs from this album, but I’ll start with the best two.

  • Joy – Bettye’s soulful voice and the funky ensemble behind her do great things with this Lucinda Williams song.
  • How Am I Different? – I love the fact that she knows this song and picked it. How Am I Different? was the best song on Aimee Mann’s 2000 release Bachelor No. 2 and was a brilliant choice for Bettye’s talents.

Also worth a listen on this album are:

  • Down To Zero
  • On The Surface
  • Little Sparrow
  • Only Time Will Tell

Her own website can be found here. Be warned the site greets you with thunderous applause.

I would also like to briefly mention the passing of jazz singer/pianist Blossom Dearie. You might know her from Schoolhouse Rock, if you grew up in my generation. She did the Figure Eight song and Unpack Your Adjectives. You may have heard her airy version of Put On a Happy Face. I have her version of Cole Porter’s Always True To You In My Fashion on my iPod and have put I Like You, You’re Nice (can’t find a sample) on my daughter’s mix on my iPod as well. She was cool and she’ll be missed.

February 10, 2009 - Posted by | Soul

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