1

THURSDAY

I like soft-voiced R&B cuties and melismatic showoffs, but few of them wow me like a vocalist who can testify in a gritty, old-school manner. And Detroit-raised Bettye LaVette is what they mean when they say “old-school.” On her current I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, this 59-year-old veteran takes on 10 nonsoul songs penned by women and makes them sound like the works of folks who grew up on gospel and greens. LaVette has had six songs reach the R&B charts since she was a teenager, but a series of bad breaks left her unnoticed by all but the most fanatical until now. This powerhouse’s phrasing on covers by the likes of Joan Armatrading, Sinead O’Connor, and Dolly Parton is dynamic, not forced. Whether she’s stretching out the title word of Lucinda Williams’ “Joy” as if it had three syllables or using her raspy timbre to seize ownership of Fiona Apple’s “Sleep to Dream,” LaVette is passion personified. LaVette performs at 8:30 p.m. at the State Theatre, 220 North Washington St., Falls Church. $16. (703) 237-0300. (Steve Kiviat)