The stars are aligning for Bettye LaVette and the May 25 release of Interpretations: The British Rock Songboo, as Robert Plant has invited Bettye to open for his July tour. Bettye's 3rd album for Anti-, and the follow-up to her Grammy-nominated Scene of the Crime, is earning considerable praise from both the press and her artist peers, and she's already booked for a performance on The Late Show with David Letterman for June 23.
The request to join the legendary Led Zeppelin vocalist on tour is not so much a notch in Bettye's belt as it is another link in the chain: Her latest work is an impassioned dissertation on the much-documented influence that American blues and soul had on British rock n' roll - but more than that, it's an exploration of how those echoes from a foreign shore in turn influenced and reshaped American blues and soul. Fittingly, Bettye's rendition of the Led Zeppelin classic "All My Love," will premiere exclusively on AOL's "Spinner" April 27.
Meanwhile, both the press and her peers have been singing advance praises for her upcoming album. In the Huffington Post, Leonce Gaiter wrote: "I find myself living this record. LaVette inhabits these tunes, wraps her skin around them...There's something so deeply human going on here that it's incantatory, so distinct that it's indelible. So true that it dares to be ugly sometimes. So right that it can cause you pain."
Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow are the latest artists to join a growing chorus of enthusiastic support for Bettye's singular Interpretations.
"It's hard to believe that Bettye LaVette's version of 'The Word' didn't exist before this moment," says Costello.
Sheryl Crow attests, "I've been on the same stage with Bettye twice in the last year and have been captivated each time. On her new album, Bettye finds her own way into these legendary songs yet still is able to remain faithful to the spirit in each of them. Her unique phrasing and raw honesty enables us to appreciate the words in these classics in a whole new way. Just a master class in song interpretation."
Others who have expressed their praise of Bettye include Keith Richards, Joss Stone, Pete Townsend, Jon Bon Jovi, Rob Thomas, Ringo Starr, Steve Winwood, James Taylor and Elton John.
Produced by Bettye, Rob Mathes and Michael Stevens, Interpretations is a 12-song journey through compositions by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Traffic and Pink Floyd, among others, before concluding right where the very idea for the new album started: Bettye's visceral show-stopping rendition of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" from the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors, which appears here as an extended bonus track.
Tour dates with Robert Plant are as follows:
7/20 Phoenix, AZ Dodge Theatre
7/21 Tucson, AZ Anselmo Valencia Amphitheatre
7/23 Dallas, TX Meyerson Symphony Center
7/24 Houston, TX Woodlands
7/26 Austin, TX Stubb's
7/28 Mobile, AL The Saenger Theatre
7/30 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Theatre
7/31 Miami, FL Bayfront
More news to follow...