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Bette Smith channels classic soul on debut LP (watch a new video)

Bette Smith

Soul singer Bette Smith grew up in pre-Giuliani Bed-Stuy and she sang in church as a young child, but her father taught her that pursuing a non-religious music career was wrong, and she didn’t start one until after her father’s death in 2012. She headed to Mississippi with producer Jimbo Mathus of Squirrel Nut Zippers, and the results were her debut album Jetlagger, which came out this past September via Fat Possum imprint Big Legal Mess. For some more background on Bette’s career and this album, there’s a big Billboard feature that’s worth reading. Of finally getting a record deal and releasing an album, Bette said, “It’s like a Cinderella story.” Here’s another excerpt:

Jetlagger, a rugged, chugging southern soul record. The album marks Smith’s official debut, and it’s coming out via Big Legal Mess, a subsidiary of Fat Possum, best known for finding and fostering the likes of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, remarkable singers that were only discovered by the masses later in life.

This makes it a fitting home for Smith, who is also entering the record business after a stint in the 9-to-5 world. She was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist by her choir-director father and started singing every Saturday at age five. “All my sisters and brothers would be next to me singing and praising the Lord,” she remembers, talking over breakfast at a cafe near where she grew up in Bed-Stuy. “Your parents get very offended if you sing secular music [in that religion], so if you have that dream, you internalize it,” she continues. “It’s supposed to be the devil’s music. So I repressed [the interest] through high school and college. I took music therapy instead.”

We’re premiering the video for “I Found Love” from the album, which was directed by Federico Marsicano & Fabiana Ponzi. The song is a joyful, powerful dose of ’70s-style soul, and the video splices clips of Bette singing on a bridge with a love story between a group of young guy friends and a group of young girl friends. Eventually, Bette and the lovebirds all meet on a beach. Watch below.

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