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Bettye LaVette: Raising Hell at the 20th Century Theatre

Photo credit: Chris Sikich

Bettye LaVette cut a single at the tender age of 16 that landed number seven on the top R&B list in 1962. Since then she has defined and defied how we think about country, rock and roll, blues and R&B. With the release of I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise in 2005, LaVette let us know that at 60 years old, she had just begun. Now 72 (and only more talented with age,) she is touring her latest release, Things Have Changed, a collection of revamped Bob Dylan originals. She is an absolute American legend, returning to Cincinnati for the first time in nearly 10 to the 20th Century Theatre on June 28.

Born in Detroit and christened Betty Jo Haskins, she spent her childhood singing blues and country music along to her parents’ jukebox. Betty Jo fell in love with show business that was erupting around her and ran right to it; thus was born Bettye LaVette.

At 16 she recorded her first single, “My Man - He’s a Loving Man.” It was almost immediately picked up by Atlantic and charted at number seven, giving her a jumpstart to stardom. She then began her first tour with Ben E. King, Clyde McPhatter, and fellow newcomer Otis Redding. She moved to New York where she featured in the Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford Review, released another hit record on Calla (“Let Me Down Easy,” which is still regarded as one of the greatest soul songs of all time), and toured with the James Brown Review. In 1968 her cover of Kenny Rogers’ “What My Condition My Condition Was In” garnered praise by Rogers himself who then prompted his brother, Lelan, to record a number of her following hits.

LaVette made a comeback in the early 2000s in what she calls her “Fifth Career” with the critically-acclaimed album, A Woman Like Me. The next decade presented a countless number of successes: the publication of her autobiography, three Grammy nominations, a performance with Jon Bon Jovi for former President Barack Obama, and appearances on The Tonight Show, Late Night, the Late Late Show, NPR’s Tiny Desk series, Good Morning America, and so many more.

Bettye is a legend if we ever knew one; she is “no mere singer” but “an interpreter of the highest order.” The outstanding length and fidelity of her iconic voice and production is absolutely unrivaled. Bettye has rebirthed a number of Bob Dylan originals that sincerely put up a fight; it will be a true honor to witness and a pretty big mistake to miss.

When: Thursday, June 28, 8 PM; doors open at 7

Where: 20th Century Theatre, all ages

How much: $30-$25



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