This is the moment – the record, the book, the culmination of a lifetime of near-triumphs. This is Bettye LaVette's triumphant year, her 50th in show business. "Miss LaVette now rivals Aretha Franklin as this generation's most vital soul singer," proclaims the New York Times. With a voice as powerful as Etta James and a story as compelling as Tina Turner, LaVette is finally embracing the superstar status that has eluded her since the '60s. Justice has been served. Her time has come. Two major creative endeavors – a brilliantly reflective album, Thankful N' Thoughtful, and a riveting autobiography, A Woman Like Me – will be released this fall. Together, they present LaVette at the top of her form, as an artist with the unflinching courage to confront her past while reshaping her future.
At the heart of the Bettye LaVette story, whether sung as a song or narrated in a book, is the notion of creative survival. It is her voice that both announces and ensures that survival; it is her voice that, no matter how dire the circumstances, lets you know that she will not be denied. It is her voice that compels you to listen to every word she says, sings, or writes. That voice – rough, tender, sensuous, and soaring - is an instrument of inspiration.
"Like all voices," says LaVette, "mine has changed over the years. I'd like to think that the change has to do with wisdom. I'm far more selective about what songs I'll sing. If I can't re-sculpt them and, in many instances actually reinvent them to be part of my story, I can't make them come to life." LaVette's life story is nothing short of miraculous. "I've been wanting to tell this story for years," says the singer, "but now I realize I had to live more of that life before it was time to write it down. It was all unplanned – as was everything in my career – but as I was writing A Woman Like Me, I was actually reliving many of those experiences in the songs on Thankful N' Thoughtful. The two projects spoke to each other. As I wrote my life, I was singing my life. One helped me understand the other."