Bettye Lavette is Legendary Soul Singer

January 18, 2009

This is Bettye Lavette. She is the legendary soul singer who rocked the house when she performed with Jon Bon Jovi at Barack Obama’s Inaugural Celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial. See a photo, a classic Bettye Lavette video, and read her biography below.

Bettye Lavette

The great Bettye Lavette brings the first amazing moment of the ‘We Are One’ concert for Barack Obama’s Inauguration, when she duets Sam Cooke’s revered anthem ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ with Jon Bon Jovi. They even rewrite the final chorus to say ‘Change has come.’

With all the history that’s being rewritten, might as well rewrite some lyrics too!

Bettye LaVette (actually named Betty Haskins) was born in Muskegon, Michigan in 1946. So her age is 63. Bettye is an American soul singer who cut her first record at 16, but achieved only off and on fame until her 2005 record, ‘I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise.’ Her style combines elements of country, rock, soul, funk, and gospel, which has prevented her from being easily marketed.

Bettye grew up in Detroit, where she was discovered by Johnnie Mae Matthews, a Detroit record producer. In 1962, at the age of 16, she recorded a single, ‘My Man – He’s A Lovin’ Man’ with Matthews, which became a national hit after Atlantic Records bought distribution rights.

This led to a tour with rhythm and blues musicians Clyde McPhatter, Ben E. King, Barbara Lynn and then-newcomer Otis Redding. She also toured with James Brown. Her next single was ‘Let Me Down Easy’, which has become her theme song. In 1982 she contracted with Motown to fill the void left by the departing Diana Ross, and Bettye recorded ‘Tell Me A Lie,’ with the single ‘Right in the Middle of Falling in Love’ which was a modest hit.

In 2005, Bettye LaVette’s career revived again to include a live album and two brand new albums. In December 2008 at the Kennedy Center Honors, Bettye delivered a terrific rendition of ‘Love Reign O’er Me’ in tribute to Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who, who were among the year’s honorees. The performance was widely considered one of the event’s highlights.

On January 18, 2009, Bettye performed a duet at the Obama Inauguration Concert of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ with Jon Bon Jovi and it brought the house down.

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