Acclaimed Soul Vocalist Bettye LaVette Joins FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest Lineup

Critically acclaimed soul singer Bettye LaVette will join Frank Bey & The Swing City Blues Band for a rousing blues show during the 17th annual FirstEnergy Berks Jazz Fest.

Detroit native LaVette, lauded as one of the greatest soul singers in American music history, will bring her powerfully expressive voice and stage presence on Friday, March 23, at the Inn at Reading at 9:30 p.m. She will be replacing Tab Benoit, who developed a scheduling conflict. Tickets are $28.

Frank Bey, aka The Southern Gentleman of the Blues, is a natural at crowd pleasing. His rich and exquisite style is presented with such feeling that each member of the audience can relate to his or her own experience. He�s renowned for taking his audience on a trip down memory lane with a repertoire that includes such Blues and R&B classics as �Down Home Blues,� �The Blues is All Right,� �Tore Down,� �Ain�t That Loving� You,� �Sitting on the Dock of the Bay� and �A Change is Gonna Come.�

The Berks Jazz Fest runs March 16-25 at multiple venues throughout Berks County, and is presented by the Berks Arts Council.

The festival already features amazing star power in urban jazz saxophonist Boney James; legendary saxophonist David Sanborn; the ever-popular Guitars & Saxes featuring saxophonists Gerald Albright and Kirk Whalum and guitarists Jeff Golub and Tim Bowman; esteemed pianist/composer/bandleader Dave Brubeck; saxophonist Nelson Rangell; keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist Philippe Saisse; guitarist Joyce Cooling; guitarist Pat Martino; saxophonist Mindi Abair; guitarist Chuck Loeb; singer/songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway; the Denis DiBlasio Quintet; bassist Gerald Veasley�s Electric Mingus Project with special guest violinist John Blake Jr.; vocalist Kevin Mahogany; saxophonist David Liebman; the Sax Pack featuring Jeff Kashiwa, Kim Waters and Steve Cole; saxophonist Warren Hill; guitarist Nick Colionne; mix master Rafe Gomez; Gordon Goodwin�s Big Phat Band; and the Berks All-Star Jazz Jam featuring Rick Braun, Chuck Loeb, Gerald Veasley, Richard Elliot, Nick Colionne, Warren Hill, Joe McBride, Steve Oliver and Rayford Griffin.

bettye-lavette-mitchell.jpgBettye LaVette has spent most the last four decades as a performer as something of a secret among soul aficionados. She's had minor hits: "My Man -- He's a Loving Man" in the '60s and "Right in the Middle of Falling in Love" in the early '80s -- but never reached the level of acclaim of Aretha Franklin or Diana Ross. But that may be changing.

The release of her 2005 album, I've Got My Own Hell to Raise, a collection of 10 covers by an eclectic range of contemporary female singer/songwriters, has garnered her praise for her soul-jarring vocal ability.

Recently nominated for two WC Handy Blues Awards in 2007, for B.B. King Entertainer of the Year and Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year, she was previously honored with a WC Handy Blues Award in 2004 for A Woman Like Me as Blues Comeback Album of the Year.
LaVette may be from Detroit, but the singers she most closely resembles are Southerners such as James Carr or Otis Redding -- powerful yet tender, and a little rough around the edges. She's aided by her four-piece band, which provides her with perfectly understated backup.

To order tickets:
Visit the Sovereign Center Box Office, 7th & Penn streets, Reading
Visit the Sovereign Performing Arts Center Box Office, 136 N. 6th St., Reading
Call Ticketmaster at 215-336-2000 or visit
Order online at
For more information on the festival, including artist bios, click on
For more information on the Berks Arts Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes all the arts in an effort to enrich the quality of life in Berks County, click on