Blues Legend Bettye LaVette Wants You To ‘Sit Down, Shut Up’ and Let Her Sing

If there’s something LaVette wants more than anything else at this point in her career, it’s respect. But, she says, money wouldn’t hurt either.

Bettye LaVette’s decades-long career has had its share of ups and downs over the decades, at one point, she says, she even considered walking away from music.  

“I quit continuously. You know, I quit anytime it’s not working right,” LaVette says. “In my head [I quit], but apparently never in my heart because the moment the phone rings and they say ” come and [perform] again…” 

Thankfully, LaVette, a Detroit native with a strong streak of the city’s celebrated perseverance, returned to the stage and studio many times over. Her most recent string of successes has earned her five Grammy nods, a visit to the Obama White House, and induction to the Blues Hall of Fame.

If there’s something LaVette wants more than anything else at this point in her career, it’s respect. From newer, younger artists, her fans, and, of course, the music industry itself.

“Whatever it was, if it’s making an omelet I would make it better than them just by virtue of making it [for a] longer [time].” – Bettye LaVette

She feels strongly that older artists who’ve spent years dedicated to their musical craft aren’t getting their due. 

“I do not at all. I don’t think [they’re getting the] respect or due,” she says. 

LaVette says, “When I was just there at the Grammys this last time [for instance], I think it’s ridiculous for me to lose a Grammy to someone who is younger than my granddaughter.” 

Click the player to hear CultureShift’s Amanda LeClaire speak with Bettye LaVette. 

Bettye LaVette will perform at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival on Saturday, February 1st. Find tickets here.

Support the news you love.

Here at WDET, we strive to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a non-profit public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. Because you value WDET as your source of news, music, and conversation, please make a gift of support today. Even $5 helps! Donate today »


  • Amanda LeClaire
    Amanda LeClaire is an award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. She’s a founding producer of WDET’s flagship news talk show Detroit Today, and a former host/reporter for Arizona Public Media. Amanda is also an artist, certified intuitive and energy healer, and professional tarot reader.