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Bettye LaVette

Bettye LaVette

With one of her first singles turning into a national hit, 1962's "Let Me Down Easy", Detroit-raised LaVette would seem a natural soul star, but she was never able to cut an album deal. In 1972 her album A Child of the Seventies was shelved by Atlantic Records, then thought lost forever in a fire. She eked out a living on the European festival circuit, occasionally surfacing such as with the disco single "Doin' the Best that I Can", but remained obscure until French soul collector Gilles Petard tracked down the lost masters and persuaded Atlantic to let him release them on his vanity label as Souvenirs. A live album and 2005's cover album I've Got My Own Hell To Raise followed.

With the release of The Scene of the Crime, Bettye Lavette inched closer to the mainstream, or at least a much bigger cult following. Backed by The Drive-By Truckers and released on -Anti, The Scene of the Crime, was recorded at the legendary FAME studios in Muscles Shoals, Alabama. The same place as her lost album. The connection doesn't end there - Patterson Hood of the Drive-by Truckers is the son of David Hood, who played on the 1972 album.

In 2009, she appeared at President Barack Obama's Inaugural Celebration, singing "A Change Is Gonna Come" with Jon Bon Jovi. This was followed by a recent EP release, Change is Gonna Come Sessions.

Of a recent performance in Minneapolis, Jon Bream of the Star Tribune proclaimed: "She remains the most deeply emotional and physically emotive R&B singer on the planet. When she sings, she gets in touch with the deep recesses of her psyche and soul. Imagine Otis Redding's pleading style of Southern R&B rendered with Tina Turner's leathery lungs, delivered with more emotion than Janis Joplin could summon."

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