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Louisiana-bred vocalist LaVerne Butler’s long quest to forge an artistic identity is starting to pay off. After performing with her jazz saxophonist father, singing with the University of New Orleans jazz band, and appearing in Big Easy clubs, she moved to Manhattan in 1984 to study with veteran jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks. Two overproduced mid-’90s CDs—one featuring standards, the other with a contemporary jazz/New Age flavor—captured her warm sound and confident musicianship but failed to establish a sense of her individuality. Last year, she switched labels and recorded Blues in the City, an informal collection of ballads and blues backed by pianist Bruce Barth’s trio on which more of her personality comes through. Butler and Barth bring themselves to D.C. at 8 and 10 p.m. at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Rear. $16. (202) 337-4141. (Joel E. Siegel)