"Classic soul singing doesn’t get any better."
– New York Times
Hailed by the New York Times as “one of the great soul interpreters of her generation,” five-time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette is a vocalist who can take any type of song – jazz or country, pop or rhythm & blues – and make it her own. A Dakota favorite, LaVette’s undeniable voice and enthralling stage presence make for a truly unforgettable experience.
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“she doesn’t just sing the song, she lives in each of them” – Jon Bon Jovi
“one of the most incredible R&B singers singing today…a force of nature.” – Bonnie Raitt
Things Have Changed, an album of Bob Dylan songs produced by Steve Jordan, marked LaVette’s Verve debut in 2018. It received two Grammy nominations. Blackbirds, whose release will coincide with LaVette’s induction into the Blues Music Hall of Fame, represents a further step in her artistic evolution. Working again with producer Jordan, who also plays drums, and a group of celebrated musicians (Smokey Hormel on guitar, Monty Croft on vibes, bassist Tom Barney and veteran keyboardist Leon Pendarvis), LaVette delivers impassioned readings of songs associated with African American female vocalists of the 1950s. Nina Simone’s “I Hold No Grudge,” which was suggested for LaVette by the original writer, Angelo Badalamenti, captures the defiance we associate with Simone while adding warmth and hopefulness. “Save Your Love for Me,” popularized by Nancy Wilson, reflects LaVette’s development as a vocal stylist who, through the warmth and precision with which she caresses each lyric, creates the kind of intimate mood once associated with smoky nightclubs and after-hours spots. Meanwhile, “Strange Fruit,” first performed by Billie Holiday, is a harrowing critique of American racism that still says much about the country today.