BETTYE LaVETTE is starting off 2009 with a bang by performing Sam Cooke's revered anthem "A Change Is Gonna Come" at Barack Obama's Inaugural Celebration kicking off at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, January 18. A partial list of additional musical performers includes, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, John Legend, Usher Raymond IV, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, U2 and Stevie Wonder. Among those reading historical passages will be Jack Black, Steve Carrell, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Foxx, Tom Hanks, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah, Laura Linney and Denzel Washington.
At the moment, "Bettye is speechless."
HBO will televise the event on an open channel (Sunday, January 18 live at 2:30pm ET and 11:30am PT and later from 7-9pm ET/PT), working with all of its distributors to allow Americans across the country with access to cable, telcos or satellite television to join in the Opening Celebration for free. It will also be streamed live on href="http://www.hbo.com" target="_blank">www.hbo.com. Since the actual event is free and open to the public, more than 800,000 are expected in the audience.
LaVETTE has been on a roll since her 2005 release on Anti- Records, My Own Hell to Raise which brought her back into the national spotlight, 43 years after her first single "My Man is a Loving Man," was released in 1962 when she was a teen. This roll only gathered more strength and critical acclaim when Anti- issued her second CD for the label in 2007, the Grammy nominated, The Scene of the Crime.
Just this past December LaVETTE proved to give the powerhouse performance of the evening at the Kennedy Center Honors when she sang her unparalleled version of "Love Reign O'er Me" as part of the Who tribute.
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 href="http://www.thewho.com" target="_blank">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."
You can watch her spectacular performance href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJi6maTueSc&feature=related" target="_blank">here
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.