Every note she sings is intense. On her first song of the night, LaVette shakes and shimmies across the stage like someone one-third her age. Can she keep up this energy level all night? Yes, though she does settle down with the dance moves.
When I interviewed her recently (my article for Pioneer Press is here), she said her voice is more similar to male singers like Wilson Pickett than it is to female singers like Aretha Franklin. I see her point. It’s not necessarily that masculine of a voice, but it has a straining quality that isn’t exactly feminine, either. When she spoke between songs, her voice sounded quite hoarse — you wondered how she was able to sing so well when she could barely talk. However she does it, there’s something quite magnificent and powerful about her singing voice, the way she imbues each note with emotion.
She scattered in comments about her career, a tale of decades of struggle finally resulting in some overdue recognition the last few years. Her band left the stage one by one, and then she was alone for her closing song, an a cappella version of Sinead O’Connor’s “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.” One woman’s voice filled the room and everyone stood in awe.