b. Betty Haskin, 29th January 1946, Muskegon, Michigan, U.S.A.
Bettye LaVette was born in Muskegon in Michigan in 1946.
Relocating to New York, Bettye gained her first professional experience as part of the touring review run by soul singers Don Gardner (The Don Gardner Band) and Dee Dee Ford in the early 60's.
She soon signed a solo contract with Atlantic Records, where she adopted her stage name for the 1962 R & B hit, 'My Man - He's A Loving Man' b/w 'Shut Your Mouth'.
Bettye recorded for several imprints throughout the Sixties, including Lu Pine, Scepter, Calla, Big Wheel, Karen and Silver Fox.
The ballad 'Let Me Down Easy' b/w 'What I Don't Know (Won't Hurt Me)' was an R & B hit in 1965 on Calla Records, written by Jim and Tompall Glaser, the song was later covered by the Spencer Davis Group.
love's made a fool out of me - 1965 / what condition my condition is in - 1969
Bettye recorded material by other country writers, and her version of Mickey Newbury's 'Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)' in 1969 was later picked up by Kenny Rogers.
One Big Wheel 45, released in 1969, was entitled 'I'm Holding On' b/w 'Tears In Vain', and featured Marvin Gaye on keyboards.
She enjoyed two further chart successes in 1969-70 with country / soul recordings on Lelan Rogers' Silver Fox label, including 'Love's Made A Fool Out Of Me' b/w 'Nearer To You', which turned into a pop release for Bobbie Gentry in 1970.
After singles for SSS International ('Take Another Piece Of My Heart', 'He Made A Woman Out Of Me' and 'Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go') and TCA, Bettye next returned to the Atlantic fold to record two 1971 / 2 singles for their Atco label.
Of these, her version of Joe Simon's 'Your Time To Cry' (retitled 'Your Turn To Cry') b/w 'Soul Tambourine' was well received.
At the label she also recorded 'Heart Of Gold' b/w ' You'll Wake Up Wiser' in 1972.
The mid to late 70's saw singles on Epic, including 'Thank You For Loving Me' and 'Behind Closed Doors', both in 1975
doin' the best that I can - 1978 / i can't stop - 1982
Bettye then relocated to the West End imprint for 'Doing The Best That I Can', whilst she also starred in the Broadway musical 'Bubbling Brown Sugar'.
In the early 80's, renewed interest in her early recordings led to her being offered a contract with Motown.
There she recorded the acclaimed 'Tell Me A Lie', one of the label's few ventures into southern soul.
An album of the same title remains unreleased.
A 1982 Motown single was released, entitled 'Either Way We Lose' b/w 'I Can't Stop'.
Besides the R & B hit 'Right In The Middle (Of Falling in Love)' (a flipside to the Smokey Robinson single 'Tell Me Tomorrow'), the album included reworkings of 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' and 'If I Were Your Woman'.
Bettye Layette remains a cult figure among soul fans in the U.K., and many of her 60's recordings have been reissued in recent years.
In 1992 Lavette recorded two singles ('Surrender' and 'Good Luck' in 1990-91) and 'Not Gonna Happen Twice' on Ian Levine's Motor City label.
releases 2000 - 2010
Easier To Say Than Do (Charly Records 1980)
Tell Me A Lie (credited as Bettye Lavette) (Motown Records 1980)
Nearer To You (Charly Records 1991)
Not Gonna Happen Twice (Motor City Records 1992)
Let Me Down Easy (Munich Records 2000)
Souvenirs (Art & Soul Records 2000)
A Woman Like Me (Blues Express Records 2003)
I've Got My Own Hell To Raise (Anti Records 2005)
The Scene Of The Crime (Anti Records 2007)
Change Is Gonna Come Sessions (Anti Records 2009)
Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook (Anti Records 2010)
Thankful N'Thoughtful (Anti Records 2012)