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'Bout Time

Give it up for soul survivor Bettye LaVette

"It's a matter of having everything I need at this point," she says. "You know how this shit works, honey. If they had taken any of the other ones I did and put this kind of interest and money into it, maybe it wouldn't have happened like this is happening, but something would have happened."

She has also drawn enduring sustenance from the advice of her former manager, the late Jim Lewis, a veteran of the big-band era, who urged her to listen to the great pop vocalists and to polish and practice her singing down to the tiniest details of timbre and phrasing.

Bettye LaVette: Her own private hell-raiser.
Bettye LaVette: Her own private hell-raiser.

"He told me, 'If you learn your craft, you can work until you die, even if you never become a star and never sell a record.' And actually, that's been true -- I've never done anything else for these 44 years. I've done it for $25, I've done it for $2,500, I've done it for $25,000, but I've never done anything but this."

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