BETTYE LaVETTE once again pulled out all the stops and put on a staggering performance of Same Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" in a duet with Jon Bon Jovi on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This marks the second time in the past two months she has been in the capitol making an indelible impression with the powers that be and distinctly shined through it all. The first was at the Kennedy Center Honors when she slayed the crowd with her own very unique version of the Who's "Love Reign O'er Me."
"'Music has always been the creative heartbeat of the American experience,'" Denzel Washington said at the Lincoln Memorial during Sunday's opening ceremony, noted The Philadelphia Inquirer. "That truism was brought vividly to life this week. Bettye LaVette turned in a soul searing performance at the memorial of Sam Cooke's civil-rights-era classic 'A Change Is Gonna Come.'"
Of singing for Obama, Bettye said in Tina Brown's Daily Beast: "In the middle of the song I turned and looked and Obama was on the stage, the whole group of them, and my eyes were just fixed on him for a moment. I was singing the line 'I always believed that a change would come,' and just as I turned, our eyes locked and he was mouthing the words along."
Bettye recounted her other most meaningful moments of the day in the Detroit Free Press, where Bettye proclaimed: "Do you know I just hugged, kissed and sung for the president of the United States? For the second time in six weeks?" And in another section of the paper, she revealed: "I got a chance to talk to them. He (Obama) held me and he said, 'I appreciated you singing for me so much and I really loved the song.'"
Meanwhile, Jon Bon Jovi was on Oprah yesterday (1/21) showing photos he had taken during all the inaugural festivities. While Oprah was holding a photo of Bettye and Jon, he exclaimed, "That's Bettye LaVette who sang with me "A Change is Gonna Come." Talk about a lady who's lived the lyric of a song--looking into her eyes was almost as magical as looking out at the 400,000 people I was singing to. It was pretty special." (You can see the photo here.)
Elsewhere, Daily Variety declared: "Bettye LaVette, who took D.C. by storm last month at the Kennedy Center Honors, was partnered with Jon Bon Jovi on Sam Cook's 'A Change Is Gonna Come.' She invested it with anguish, while he approached it from a perspective of reasoned logic, giving the perf considerable gravitas"; while The Baltimore Sun remarked: "The under-rated blues-soul great Bettye LaVette--whose wrenching, scarred approach to everything she sings--was...paired with Jon Bon Jovi for Same Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come."
Utne Reader had the best headline of the event: "Bettye LaVette and the Soul of Barack Obama." The item went on to predict, "I think her performance might be the Barackathon's emotional showstopper." And even the sports world took notice. Former NFL running back for the San Francisco 49ers confessed to the San Francisco Chronicle: "Oh...when Bon Jovi and Bettye LaVette sang Sam Cooke's stirring civil-rights song, 'A Change Is Gonna Come,' on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday? I cried like a baby."
According to Newsday: "The great Bettye LaVette brings the first amazing moment of 'We Are One' as she fills 'A Change Is Gonna Come' with fire, dueting with Jon Bon Jovi. They even rewrite the final chorus to say 'Change has come.'"
"It was truly the most wonderful experience and highlight of my life," Bettye whispered with all the sincerity and humility in her soul.
You can see and hear her duet with Jon Bon Jovi from Barack Obama's Inaugural Event at the Lincoln Memorial here.
Additionally, NPR's "Fresh Air" is going to re-air and update their interview with Bettye for tomorrow's broadcast (1/23).