On her 2005 comeback album, I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, Bettye LaVette covered Lucinda Williams’ “Joy,” but replaced the cities that Williams sang about — Slidell, La., and West Memphis, Ark. — with the cities that played a part in her own story: Detroit, New York, Memphis, Muscle Shoals, Ala., and, finally, West Orange, where she moved in 2003.
Essex County has been good to LaVette. Since ’03, she has finally received the widespread acclaim that had eluded her since she started singing professionally in the 1960s, and is now widely acknowledged as one of the world’s most dependably fiery vocalists, in any genre.
Earlier in the 350 Jersey Songs series, I wrote about “A Change Is Gonna Come,” her 2009 duet with Jon Bon Jovi at “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Visit bettyelavette.com to catch up on her latest projects.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.