click to enlarge
August 15, 2014
Friday, August 15
Premier seating + Meet and Greet $65
PREMIER SEATING + MEET and GREET tickets: Yoshi's will provide seating in the first two rows for the performance. The Meet and Greet (approx. 20 mins) will be one hour before the performance (7PM) and will take place in the club.
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.
Then back to Detroit for a one off single on Big Wheel and a series of singles for Ollie McLaughlin's Karen label. One of these songs, "Hey Love", was written expressly for her by Stevie Wonder. In 1969, Kenny Rogers heard her cover of his group's "What My Condition My Condition Was In", and suggested to his brother, producer Lelan Rogers, that he record her. This led to her signing with Silver Fox, and a trip to Memphis, where she made a string of records with a then unknown studio group, who went on to become known as The Dixie Flyers. The recordings were augmented by The Memphis Horns. The first release,"He Made a Woman Out of Me", went #25 R&B, even though it was banned by some stations due to it's risqué content. It later went on to be a hit for Bobbie Gentry. In 1970, the follow-up "Do Your Duty" went # 38 R&B. She recorded a number of other songs for the label, some of which were issued on 45. The LP that was to come never did, due to a falling out between label head Shelby Singleton and Lelan Rogers.
In 1971, at the suggestion of her manager, Jim Lewis, she entered a talent competition, and won a Clio Award for a Schaffer Beer Commercial.
"Bettye has always had big ears and a wide open mind, preferring to fulfill the role of a song interpreter, rather than attempt to write her own material. Bettye’s near mystical ability to get inside a song’s lyric, melodic line and harmonic implications, in the process invariably making anything she covers her own, stems from the tutelage and guidance of her late manager Jim Lewis. A veteran of the big band era having played with the screaming and stomping Buffalo-based Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra, Lewis managed LaVette for ten years beginning in 1968 and constantly harped on her to listen to master song interpreters such as Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra, pointing out the intricacies of phrasing and timbre manipulation that are part and parcel of the sonic art of any truly great vocalist." - Rob Bowman