How Bettye LaVette remained hidden from the great majority of the music-obsessed public for some 40 years is one of the great mysteries of the ages. But since she finally broke out in the mid-'00s, she has been widely praised as a singer for those ages, a soul sister who can belt it out with the best of them but also work the nuances to give special meaning to a lyric while easily stretching from soul to jazz, rock, and country. Even President Obama noted that LaVette's prime had been a long time coming when she sang Sam Cooke's apropos "A Change Is Gonna Come" at last January's inaugural celebration. Cooke's classic is also on the digital-only EP LaVette, issued as a bridge between 2007's The Scene of the Crime (recorded in Muscle Shoals with the Drive-By Truckers) and her still pending next album. The EP also shows off her grand range, traversing soul from Cooke and Bill Withers, Jimmy Rushing blues, and jazz classics from Monk, Billie Holiday, and Billy Strayhorn. In cabaret performances last summer, she also reportedly did stunning versions of songs by Springsteen, Neil Young, and the Beatles. Some of those may infiltrate her set list when she's back in town, this time in Hopkins.
Tue., Feb. 2, 6 p.m., 2010