Bettye LaVette: The Scene of the Crime

Bettye LaVette. Anti-.


Like a bumpy country road, sixtysomething Southern R&B veteran Bettye LaVette’s singing is full of rough spots, all the better to spotlight her thrilling intensity. Continuing the resurgence that began in 2005 with I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, the remarkable The Scene of the Crime features a sizzling band that includes members of Drive-By Truckers—just imagine Tina Turner fronting the Stones circa 1968. As the voice of hard-earned experience, LaVette ponders the ravages of alcohol (“Choices”) and time (Elton John’s “Talking Old Soldiers”) and looks back at 45 years of career struggles in the funky “Before the Money Came (The Battle of Bettye LaVette),” exclaiming, “I’ve got so much to say.” Long may she roar.

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  • Jon Young is a contributing writer for Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.