Blackbirds Bettye LaVette

Album info



Label: Verve

Genre: R&B

Subgenre: Soul

Artist: Bettye LaVette

Album including Album cover

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  • 1I Hold No Grudge05:00
  • 2One More Song05:24
  • 3Blues For The Weepers03:52
  • 4Book Of Lies03:44
  • 5Romance In The Dark04:28
  • 6Drinking Again05:36
  • 7Strange Fruit04:14
  • 8Save Your Love For Me04:52
  • 9Blackbird03:31
  • Total Runtime40:41

Info for Blackbirds

Blues Hall of Famer and five-time Grammy-nominee Bettye LaVette returns with a new album, `Blackbirds,' produced by Steve Jordan. Features songs primarily popularized by peers-other iconic women in music-who she respected and admired. Set for release August 28th, it finds her in top form delivering powerful renditions of songs that touched her personally. Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit", Nina Simone's "I Hold No Grudge" & more, all in LaVette's rich and raspy tone with a touch of the blues.

“It might not be men and women hanging from trees, but these public executions are now on video and it feels like they’re doing it for sport,” she continued. “I hope the song will be a reminder that we have had enough, and I support the Black Lives Matter movement.”

In a recent interview with the BBC’s World At One, LaVette spoke about the racial inequality she faced growing up “It seemed normal…And it seemed even more normal to my mother than it did to me. She was born and raised in a plantation in Louisiana.”

LaVette added that when she was rising in her career, during the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, she often experienced inequality first-hand. “In 1969, I had a record called ‘He Made A Woman Out Of Me’…It made every Black radio station in the country.” However, when Bobbie Gentry, a white singer, recorded her own version of the song six months later, “hers, of course, was played on every white station in the country…. A whole three-fourths of the country never heard mine.”

The set Blackbirds will highlight songs that were primarily popularized by LaVette’s peers, heroes, and similarly notable women in music. The nine-track album, which reunites the Detroit native with producer Steve Jordan, features such songs as Dinah Washington’s “Drinking Again,” Nina Simone’s “I Hold No Grudge,” and Nancy Wilson’s “Save Your Love For Me.” LaVette closes the album with a reflective rendition of The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird.’

Bettye LaVette, vocals
Smokey Hormel, guitar
Leon Pendarvis, keyboards
Monte Croft, vibraphone
Tom Barney, bass
Steve Jordan, drums

Produced by Steve Jordan

Betty Jo Haskins
was born January 29,1946, in Muskegon, Michigan. The family moved to Detroit when she was six years old. Her parents sold corn liquor and her living room was oft-times visited by The Soul Stirrers, The Blind Boys of Mississippi, and many other traveling gospel groups of the day. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Bettye did not get her start in the church, but in that very same living room, where there was a jukebox, filled with the blues, country & western, and R&B records of the time. The "5" Royales, Dinah Washington, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Red Foley, ...these were her roots.

By 16, Betty Jo had become enamored with showbiz. She decided to change her name to something more dramatic. She knew a local groupie by the name of Sherma Lavett, liked the sound of the name, and thus, Betty LaVette was born. Singer Timmy Shaw brought her to Johnnie Mae Matthews, notorious Motor City record producer. Bettye's first single was "My Man - He’s a Loving Man.", in the fall of 1962. The record was quickly picked up by Atlantic for national distribution. The record charted #7 R&B and put her on her first national tour, with Ben E. King, Clyde McPhatter, and another newcomer, Otis Redding. After a brief spell at Detroit's Lupine label, Bettye went back to New York and became the featured singer in the Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford Review, where their Small's Paradise shows became the talk of the town. Her association with Don and Dee Dee spawned her next big record, for the Calla label. "Let Me Down Easy", written by Dee Dee Ford, was an atmospheric masterpiece. Bettye's pleading voice, set against the moody string arrangement by Dale Warren produced a record that is on many "greatest soul songs of all time" lists. It went # 20 R&B in 1965 and led to an appearance on the television show, Shindig. It also put her on a tour with The James Brown Review. More, please visit the homepage:

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