Grinding in Obscurity.

The New Yorker profiles Bettye LaVette, a singer/badass who had some minor hits back in the 60s, but who’s experienced a career resurgence after her performance of The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008.

The profile is unfortunately behind a paywall, but it paints LaVette as a charismatic, somewhat capricious lady with a really complicated relationship to her fame — or lack thereof. Motown, Stax and the like didn’t know what to do with her voice, and she resents the fact that she never blew up, even as she’s sort of glad it never happened. (She also sort of hates music.)

“I’ve never been this tired in my life. My show is such that I don’t get much sympathy — they look at me and say, ‘She doesn’t look that old and she doesn’t seem that tired’ —- but, when you see me holding the microphone stand, I’m holding it for balance. If I was younger and tired, I’d just be tired. When I’m tired now, I feel like death. I really thought I could just adapt to this struggle, but I’m a grandmother. How do you think your grandmother would do if someone showed up and said, ‘Let’s go on the road with the Robert Plant.’ I really don’t have a lot of talents.” She went on,” I can cook, and I can fuck, and I can sing. And I’m proud of all of them.”



Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs and reports on race and ethnicity for NPR's Code Switch team.
  • Scipio Africanus

    ” I can cook, and I can fuck, and I can sing.”


  • MarsNova

    LOL @ “Let’s go on the road with the Robert Plant”.

  • Momma!

    Honey Child, running wild! she somethin else! lol!

  • When I got to Providence, one of my coworkers recommended Betty Lavette’s music to me, just off the strength that she was from Michigan. (He mistakingly said Flint like me, but I think she’s from Muskegon.) I wrote her name down, then went back to work. Never looked her up. But I love this song. I love her voice. And it makes me want to hear more of it.