Bettye LaVette is no mere singer. She is not a song writer, nor is she a "cover" artist. She is an interpreter of the highest order. Her gift is being able to take a song, whether well known or obscure, from any genre and making it completely her own. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Dolly Parton, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and Bruce Springsteen are just a few of the artists who have had their work re-imagined by Bettye.
Now, in her 55th year in show business, she has been signed to Verve Records, and has recorded an album of all Bob Dylan songs. Things Have Changed is a masterpiece of interpretation of the songs of one of the greatest songwriters alive, by one of the greatest soul singers alive. Bettye has recorded Dylan songs in the past, but this is the first time that she has devoted an entire album to one writer. She will be performing the album in it's entirety, along with other songs from throughout her career.
Her career began in 1962, at the age of 16, in Detroit, Michigan. Her first single "My Man - He’s a Loving Man", was released on Atlantic Records. She recorded for numerous major labels, including Atco, Epic, and Motown, over the course of the 1960s through the 1980s.
The 2000's started what she calls her "Fifth Career". Her CD, A Woman Like Me, won the W.C. Handy Award in 2004 for Comeback Blues Album of the Year. She was also given a prestigous Pioneer Award by The Rhythm & Blues Foundation. She has received Blues Music Awards for Best Contemporary Female Blues Singer and Best Soul Blues Female Artist. She recorded 4 CDs for hipster indie label ANTI- Records over the course of 8 years, 2 of which received Grammy nominations. Her 2015 CD, Worthy, was also nominated for a Grammy.
Although still not a household name, fans, critics and artists have nothing but high praise for her live show and her interpretive vocal skill. Now 72 years old, she is still performing with the ferocity of a woman half her age. She is one of very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 60s and is still creating vital recordings today.
Phil Wiggins & Eleanor Ellis
The National Heritage Fellow and multiple W.C. Handy blues award winner Phil Wiggins is open for all types of events. With more than 40 years experience including a dozen albums critically acclaimed albums (Flying Fish and Alligator Records, among others), appearing in numerous films and staged productions, Phil is ready to add masterful harmonica to any project.
Phil’s credentials as harmonica player, songwriter and bandleader have been honed over more than 40 years of playing with some of the greatest names in the blues. During his formative years he has played with blues luminaries including Esther Mae Scott, Flora Molton, John Jackson, Archie Edwards, Johnny Shines, Robert Lockwood, Wilbert “Big Chief” Ellis, Sunnyland Slim, Robert Lockwood, Henry Townsend, Honeyboy Edwards, and Lonnie Pitchford.
He spent 32 years in the great Piedmont blues, double W.C. Handy Blues Award winning duo of Cephas & Wiggins. Since the passing of his partner John Cephas, Phil has performed with Dom Turner, Nat Reese, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Taj Mahal, the Holmes Brothers, Corey Harris, George Kilby Jr., Guy Davis, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Lauren Sheehan, the Rev. Wilkins, Branford Marseilles, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons, the MSG Acoustic Blues Trio, and many more.
Eleanor Ellis has developed a distinctive and personal approach to the music, and has played at festivals and clubs throughout the United States, in Canada and in Europe. According to one reviewer, “More than copying one artist or another, Ellis distills the elements of the originals and transmits them, intact, in her own expressive way.” She credits her musical reach to such greats as Memphis Minnie, Skip James and other early recording artists, as well as to the influence of the blues players she has personally known.