Bettye LaVette

When: Fri., Jan. 17 2014


A ’60s teen sensation, Bettye LaVette says that aspiring female Detroit soul vocalists were required to be “groupies who sang” if they wanted to survive the Motor City grind. LaVette’s bluesy grit and heart-wrenching R&B is partly the result of surviving such industry sexism, along with blinkered indifference and outright hostility, but that storyline does LaVette’s ferocious talent a disservice. A 2007 collaboration with the Drive by Truckers kick-started her remarkable second act, which picked up steam with her blistering take on the Who’s “Love, Reign o’er Me” that stripped the synth-bloated original down to a sizzling, soul slow-burner. LaVette has since used “Love” as a template, reconfiguring British Invasion chestnuts on her 2010 LP, Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook — she mischievously calls it “songs written by young stoned English guys, sung by a 67-year-old drunken black woman” — and revitalizing staples by Dylan, Sly Stone and the Pogues on her current release, Thankful ‘N Thoughtful. With the authority of Tina Turner, and the emotion and control of Aretha Franklin, LaVette unleashes gasoline-soaked soul that’s a testament to truth and transcendence. (Pat Moran)

Price: $32-$168

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