Bettye LaVette recorded her first hit, “My Man — He’s a Lovin’ Man,” at the age of 16. She toured with Ben E. King, Barbara Lynn, and Otis Redding. And now she’s being crowned the Comeback Queen for her recent albums, I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, which came out in 2005, and her latest The Scene of the Crime. LaVette recorded The Scene of the Crime at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., with the Southern rock band Drive-By Truckers and the legendary session musician and songwriter Spooner Oldham. (He played on Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” and Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man.”) Most of the songs on the record are covers of soul classics that LaVette’s husband, a record historian, played around the house, but she wrote the song “Before the Money Came (The Battle of Bettye LaVette)” herself at the prompting of Patterson Hood, guitarist and vocalist for the Drive-By Truckers. The Scene of the Crime isn’t the first record LaVette made at FAME studios; a disc she cut there in 1972 was shelved by Atlantic. Those songs didn’t see the light of day until the French label Art and Soul released it in 2000. Called Souvenirs, it reinvigorated LaVette’s career and led to her signing with Anti Records in 2003.
BETTYE LAVETTE: Let Me Down Easy
Last week, the New Jersey legislature voted to end the death penalty. We talk about the significance of their vote with JIM HOOKER of NJN. Then, the upcoming Supreme Court case on the legality of lethal injection with legal scholar DEBORAH DENNO from Fordham University School of Law. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3
(Rebroadcast tonight at 11)
Stephen Sondheim’s award winning musical, Sweeney Todd has made the move to the big screen. The movie, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp in the lead role, opens on Christmas Day. We talk about the story, the music, and the challenges of bringing Sweeney Todd to stage and film with DAVID FOX who teaches theater at the University of Pennsylvania, and TERRENCE NOLAN, of the Arden Theater who won a Barrymore award for his 2005 production of Sweeney Todd. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3