Miss Lavelle White
Miss Lavelle White is the real deal, a living legend and queen of soul and blues whose rich history as a singer and songwriter is matched by the music she makes today.
Emerging in the late 1950s on Houston’s legendary Duke Records, White has worked and toured with many of the great names of black music and spent a decade as the house singer at Chicago’s renowned Kingston Mines blues mecca. She’s a dynamic reminder of the continuing allure and vitality of the African American musical tradition.
Miss Lavelle (as she is known) serves up a delicious buffet of R&B, gospel, funk and even country on which she matches the timeless hits she covers with songs of her own to create a definitive modern soul document.
With considerable pop élan firmly planted in her deep roots, White fixes her signature to such classics as the Box Tops hit “Soul Deep,” Van Morrison’s” Into The Mystic” and Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For The City.” She revives the spirit of Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day” and touches the divine on her own “Lord I Want To Thank You,” and conversely defines the sound of country soul on Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You.” On an album that travels from her native Mississippi Delta on the sparse country-blues of “Love In Return” to contemporary travails on” Computer Blues,” Lavelle White’s exceptional voice and pen keep the soul sound alive and kicking in this new century.
Hailed as an avatar of “true blues and a class act” (Portland Oregonian), Lavelle White knows of all that she sings. Born in Amite, Louisiana, she grew up in the cotton fields and churches of Louisiana and Mississippi, the daughter of a gospel piano playing single mother. In her mid-teen years, White relocated to Houston, where she sneaked out of the house at night to feast on the city’s vibrant and influential Gulf Coast mix of blues, soul and pop. Taken under wing by Clarence Hollimon and Johnny Copeland and mixing with such musical giants as Albert Collins and Guitar Slim, she began singing in clubs and won a deal with Don Robey’s Duke label in1958.
Her six-year tenure with Duke as “Miss La Vell” resulted in such self-penned hits as “If I Could Be With You” – masterfully reprised on Into The Mystic – “Stop These Teardrops” and “Yes, I’ve Been Crying.” But she never released a full album of what L.A. Weekly later called “a jazz-tinged, passionate, altogether beguiling brand of blues.” She also wrote Bobby “Blue” Bland’s classic “Lead Me On” (prompted by the death of her mother) but was robbed of credit when Robey attached his nom de plume to the song. She shared stages with James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, The Drifters, Sam Cooke, B. B. King, The Isley Brothers, Freddie King, Bobby Womack, Gladys Knight and others, and continued to work the Texas clubs as the spotlight faded, dedicated to her mission of bringing real music to the people.
Hence Lavelle White continues on her musical mission thanks to her abiding faith in God and dedication to “entertaining the people and making them feel good and seeing the smiles on their faces. And seeing ’em dance, seeing ’em holler back at me and all that kind of stuff. I love that. I’m out there for them.”