Great Atlantic Blues & Beyond Festival

Sure Thing: Real life Dream Girl Bettye LaVette

Dartmouth is going to get down and dirty this weekend at the first Great Atlantic Blues & Beyond Festival, which brings together a whole lotta musicians from here and around the world, including big names like Edgar Winter and his brother Johnny. But if you’re in desperate need of soul, look no further than Bettye LaVette, who performs at the festival, Saturday night from 8-9pm. A real-life Dream Girl, LaVette grew up in Detroit, and according to her biography, is one of the few soul singers who didn’t get her start singing at church. Discovered at 16 years old by Johnnie Mae Matthews, who is known as the “Godmother of Detroit Soul” (or as George Clinton called her, “Mother Funker”), LaVette’s first single, recorded in 1962, was “My Man, He’s a Loving Man,” which was eventually covered by Tina Turner in many of her live albums with husband Ike. Like so many singers of that generation, LaVette continued to release song after song for more than three decades. Stevie Wonder even wrote a track for her, “Hey Love,” but only six singles broke into the top 100. It wasn’t until the 1980s that her Etta James-styled soul started getting attention. LaVette won a bunch of awards and recorded a few full-length albums (including a song with Lisa Coleman, of Prince’s Wendy and Lisa fame).LaVette’s 2007 The Scene of the Crime finally won her well-overdue critical acclaim and a Grammy nod. Entertainment Weekly voted the album as number nine on their Best Records of the Year, with one of their reviewers declaring “Is there a more wrenching soul singer alive than Bettye LaVette? If so, keep it to yourself, because I’m too wrung out from The Scene of the Crime’s intensity to take anything more emotionally potent.”

Great Atlantic Blues & Beyond Festival, September 19-21, Alderney Landing, $115 (weekend pass), $35,

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