BETTYE LAVETTE wasn't the biggest name on stage at the recent Kennedy Center Honors, but her typically gut-wrenching performance of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" provided one of the evening's most spectacular moments.
The Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl recently described his first encounter with BETTYE's rendition of the song to Air America's Richard Greene: "We showed up for rehearsal, and one of the performers was rehearsing the song for the Who segment. It was a woman named Bettye LaVette...She is gonna steal the show. She was so phenomenal, this performance of The Who song that she did. It will bring you to tears. The room was pin-drop silent when she did this song, and it was just unbelievable"
The Who's Pete Townshend himself agrees. In a Q&A on his blog at TheWho.com, the legendary axe-slinger said, "My favorite moment was when Bettye LaVette sang a very fine version of 'Love Reign O'er Me' at the Gala and Barbra Streisand turned to ask me if I really wrote it."
"The Kennedy Center Honors was the most exciting thing I have every done in my life, because there were so many of my favorite politicians there," says Bettye. "And this year has been the greatest year of my life. Who would have ever imagined both Barack and I going to the White House?"
Meanwhile BETTYE, the reigning "Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year," is once again nominated in that category for the Blues Foundation's 2009 Blues Music Awards.
BETTYE's most recent Grammy-nominated CD THE SCENE OF THE CRIME earned her praise across the board, from NPR, which asked "Is there any soul singer who brings more guts, more conviction and more emotion to her singing?" and Entertainment Weekly, which echoed, "Is there a more wrenching soul singer alive than Bettye LaVette? If so, keep it to yourself, because I'm too wrung out from Crime's intensity to take anything more emotionally potent," to USA Today (""This album...just rips, with some truly sublime peaks.") and Rolling Stone ("LaVette's nuanced singing evokes prime Tina Turner with even more command.").
Expect BETTYE to return to the studio in 2009. In the meantime, the Kennedy Center Honors - honoring The Who, George Jones, Barbra Streisand, Morgan Freeman, and Twyla Tharp - airs December 30 on CBS.