Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Thee Bettye Swann

Over time, Betty Jean Champion, better known to her fans as Bettye Swann, has become my favourite female soul singer.  My love for her music started when I first heard Honest Jon's flawless compilation and increased to wild levels when my dad unexpectedly bought me a copy of Kent's compilation of the majestic sides she cut for Money Recordings.  Then came the 7"s.  I've bought a bunch of them.  The one I play most?  Probably this outstanding girl group soul clapper (track 17 on the aforementioned Money Recordings cd):

I never, even in my most wishful daydeams, expected to be able to see her sing live.  Amazingly, thanks to the saints at Kent Records, it could actually happen as she's scheduled to appear at Ady Croasdell's Cleethorpes 6Ts Weekender:

It will be her first performance in Europe.  It's almost too dizzy-making to contemplate that in the space of a week I could see the most significant group in my life, The Pastels (they play Glasgow's CCA with The Wake on June 1st), and the soul singer whose voice I cherish the most.  Goosebumps!  Adrenalin!  That her best known work was released four decades ago doesn't dissuade me from wanting to see her sing in 2013.  After all, I saw Roger McGuinn 30 years after The Byrds cut "Mr. Tambourine Man" and that was unforgettable.  Also, Bettye's vocal performances were never about chandelier shattering or insecurely running up and down the scales to prove her chops like a lot of those less interesting performers who came after her.  They were so much more nuanced and expressive than that so if age has slightly altered her voice, it won't diminish her ability to deliver the songs; it may, if anything, give them even more poignancy.


  1. Wow, that's quite something. Thought she had retired/quit music, etc. Maybe she'll be so touched by the fantastic reception you're bound to give her that she'll pop down to London to sing sometime. The Jazz Cafe would be ideal, Bettye.

  2. Hey davy,

    Yeah, I thought she'd retired, too, and you're right - a Jazz Cafe gig in the big smoke would probably go down a storm! Hope she announces a date or 2 that you can make :)

    cheers, brogues