WEST ORANGE, N.J. — Bettye LaVette makes no apologies for her life. Sitting cross-legged on an Art Deco chair in her living room here, sipping wine, she was animated and gritty as she talked about the decades she spent singing in clubs and cursing her “buzzard luck,” while her contemporaries, like Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross, became superstars.
“I thought I was going to die in obscurity,” said Ms. LaVette, 66. “I’m still going to die broke but not obscure.”
It has been 50 years since Ms. LaVette, then a teenage mother from a working-class Detroit home, recorded her first single, “My Man — He’s a Lovin’ Man,” which became a hit on Atlantic Records and seemed to foretell a bright future. But she quarreled with Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records and left the label, and even though she recorded dozens of other R&B singles in the 1960s, including the minor hit “Let Me Down Easy,” her career never took off. She survived as a club performer and appeared in “Bubbling Brown Sugar” on Broadway and on tour. Her long-delayed first album in the early 1980s didn’t sell. By the late ’90s, she was popular only among European R&B enthusiasts. Continue reading “Bettye LaVette Back With New CD and Autobiography”