Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bettye LaVette Soars With Set of Pure Soul at AmericanaFest

By Wil Comstock
MCAU Contributing Writer

Saturday, Sept. 16
12th & Porter

         NASHVILLE -- Bettye LaVette’s career spans 57 years.  Chances are you may never have heard of her. If that's the case, that's a shame.  She is one of the best soul interpreters of song alive today.  For one reason or another, she has been overlooked and passed over, until now… This is her moment to shine!

         I was looking forward to this show all week.  I caught her at City Winery a couple of years ago where she gave a great performance singing many songs by Nashville songwriters.  But tonight was not simply a great show. It was one of those rare moments when the singer connected to everyone in the audience. She left blood on the floor and tears in our eyes.  

         Introducing the Beatles' “Blackbird” she said, “I wanted to take the song and have it fit me, a blackbird taking her broken wings and learning to fly.” I was spellbound. I have never seen anyone take a song and turn it the way Miss LaVette did to fit her own circumstances. Her gravelly vocals sent chills up my spine.

         Bettye mentioned that Beth Nielsen Chapman and Mary Gauthier were in the audience. They had written her next song, “Worthy.” LaVette’s raw vocals, full of conviction on every word she sang, left no doubt that this woman who has waited a lifetime for recognition is worthy.  Tears streamed down her face as she uttered, “Left stumbling in the dark, I had to go within... So I traced my scars back to where I'd been... A diamond in the dirt, perfectly concealed... Down beneath the hurt, it's been so hard to feel... Worthy, worthy, what a thing to claim... Worthy, worthy ashes into flame... Worthy.”  Amen!

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