Bettye LaVette is not a name you think of when you think of legends from the 1960s. LaVette never gained as much traction like her peers Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, and others, who came out of Detroit’s music scene. The overlooked singer released a few humble top-ten R&B hits like “My Man – He’s a Lovin’ Man,” recorded at age 16, and “Let Me Down Easy.” The hits led to a whirlwind tour with Otis Redding and Ben E. King, and exposed her to many indiscretions living the tour life. She now has a new album “Thankful N’ Thoughtful” on ANTI Records, as well as a memoir titled “A Woman Like Me,” in which she exposes the happenings behind the golden glitz of Motown.
Written with biographer David Ritz, the book tells dirty details and makes juice claims. She explains in her book how she slept with her first music producer at age 16, also claiming to have slept with Otis Redding, who asked her to marry him even though he had a pregnant girlfriend at the time. She says she was the mastermind behind a party held in order for a young Stevie Wonder to lose his virginity. She talks regretfully about how she never got a chance to add Marvin Gaye to her list of sexual conquests. After hounding him with many invites to her room, he finally showed up, but she just happened to not be alone. “Marvin had finally come for me, and I blew it,” she writes.
But a huge bulk of her disdain is directed towards Diana Ross, in particular, calling her a “stuck up b*tch with a small voice and big ambition.”
Well, then! Seems like quite the juicy read!
Despite her animosity and bitterness, she is striving to be “Thankful N’ Thoughtful,” like the name of her newest LP. Her most recent notoriety came three years ago when she was invited to sing for the 2009 Pre-Inaugural concert for President Obama (below). Hopefully, she’s letting the anger go and is making steps towards forgiveness and healing.