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Interview: Bette Smith belts a retro blend of soul music and rock n’ roll

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Bette Smith plays with the bones of the soul-rock genre, fusing her journey as a deeply religiously influenced child in an under-served area of Brooklyn into her tracks.

Her most recent 2020 record The Good, The Bad and The Bette and its overall influence on the genre is a testament to her musical capabilities. 

 

bette smith

 

1. The lyrics in your most recent music video for single “I’m A Sinner” seems to be a stark juxtaposition to your gospel roots as referenced heavily in your backstory. Was there something specific that transpired to influence that?

 

Although “I’m a sinner” is a rock & soul song and gospel is gospel, my feeling is the theme of redemption runs through both. And the exuberance of both is undeniable.

 

2. Are there any specific stories that you’ll never forget from growing up in a rough part of Brooklyn?

 

I remember summer weekends in Brooklyn when I was five years old and first exposed to soul music from touring southern troubadours. The smells of cookies, refreshing lemonade and the iconic Brooklyn fire hydrants cooling us kids. That was Brooklyn. I’m still a Brooklyn girl at heart.

 

3. With your Father in the role of Church Choir Director, did you find yourself extra rebellious as you grew up or did you play it on the safe side?

 

A little of both, depending on the situation.

 

4. What are some artists whom you pull inspiration from to create your signature injection of soul music into a retro rock n’ roll foundation?

 

Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Billie Holiday, Sharon Jones and Otis Redding. They embody soul at its best.

 

5. Scrolling through your social media, your dog seems to play an important role in your life (as they should). Tell us more about them!

 

Jeremiah is such a compassionate and beautiful soul. I just love dogs.

 

6. Your upcoming Bustin’ Out Of Brooklyn tour includes a Chicago stop, have you been here before? If so, tell us about it!

 

Actually, this is my first time, but I’m excited to visit because I have good friends out there, and my band and I revere all the blues legends from that great city.

 

7. What are you most excited for regarding this upcoming tour?

 

Meeting new people and singing my heart out!

 

8. If this sentence was the last one you ever wrote, what should it say?

 

One day while flying, I looked out the window and realized—it never rains above the clouds.

 

 

 

Catch Bette Smith on her upcoming midwest tour:

 

bette smith

 

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