Bettye Lavette Comes to SummerStage

Soul royalty graces the green with a free Central Park show

Elizabeth Fladung

America has a soft spot for late bloomers, and Michigan-born Bettye Lavette is the poster girl for last-chance success: The 63-year-old singer made her first record at 16, but it would be another 43 years until she hit the big time (with 2005’s ‘I’ve Got my Own Hell to Raise’). And now she can’t scoop up the accolades and awards and guest stints (like at the presidential inauguration, where she rocked Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ with Jon Bon Jovi) fast enough. About time.

Lavette brings her gospel-tinged soul and trademark husky growl to Central Park tonight, where she’ll be joined by Brooklyn’s Budos Band: With anywhere from 11 to 13 members at a time, this afro-soul collective (their sound might best be described as 1970s blaxploitation-soundtrack funk) on the Bushwick-based Daptone label (home of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings) tends to blow the roof off whatever venue it plays. WBGO’s Felix Hernandez will warm up the crowd with a live rendition of his Rhythm Revue show.

Bettye LaVette, Budos Band, Rhythm Revue with Felix Hernandez
Friday, July 24, 7-10PM
Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield (enter at 69th Street and 5th Avenue on the east side or 72nd Street and Central Park West on the west)
More information at

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