Wild rock & soul singer Bette Smith traces elements of her life-affirming new album ‘The Good, The Bad & The Bette’ to her childhood in rough Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Musically, it connects to the gospel music she heard in church and the soul music on the corners. No party host would regret putting on this platter!
She remembers, “My father was a church choir director. I was singing since I was five years old. I take it to church. I just break out, start speaking in tongues.” She also heard gospel around the house every weekend. “My mother listened to nothing but gospel,” she recalls, citing Mahalia Jackson and Reverend James Cleveland. “Every Sunday morning, she would get up and put on these records while dressing and praising the Lord,” she says. Bed-Stuy block parties would also have revivalist-style gospel acts. “I’m steeped in it!” she adds.
This injection of soul music and gospel into rock & roll powered a breakout in 2017’s ‘Jetlagger,’ which received raves from NPR, Paste, American Songwriter, Billboard, MOJO, and a feature in the New York Times. Not just a critics darling, the album rose to #1 on the Roots Music Report chart and topped off a banner year with a celebrated appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Billboard said, "A rugged, chugging southern soul record... Like Betty Davis or Betty Wright before her, she imbues tracks with shingly, sawtoothed texture, capable of breaking off a high note with a throaty cry or scraping so low and wide that she threatens to put her bass player out of work."
MOJO opined, “An incredible debut from the next big-voiced soul sensation out of Brooklyn.”
"A batch of tunes as powerful and taut as her wonderfully craggy voice... with a debut full-length as sturdy and uncompromising as Jetlagger, she’s the swaggering proof that there is nothing dated about soulful rock and roll sung with attitude, defiance, and a take-no-prisoners aesthetic,” raved American Songwriter.