Quarantine Diaries: Blues Legend Bettye LaVette Is Staying "Mellow" With Wine & Watching Lots Of TV
As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to rock the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, GRAMMY-nominated blues Hall Of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette shares her Quarantine Diary. LaVette's new album, Blackbirds, arrives on Aug. 28. The album's lead single, "I Hold No Grudge," is available now.
Well wishes to everyone, from West Orange. This is Bettye LaVette reporting.
I've been asked to talk about my daily activities during this terrible coronavirus assault. Most people know that I'm not very active on social media, though I have been lately. But I like to talk to people in person, and I HATE to type. Anyway, here goes...
I came home from my last gig on Feb. 3, and I haven't been out of the house except for some things out in the yard since.
My husband Kevin goes to the store once a week. He doesn't want me exposed. As I have been deemed part of the "elderly." LOL.
Although stuck at home, my days are pretty much the same as they were before the stay-at-home rule went into effect. Except it's EVERY DAY, instead of being mixed with working days. And I have to say, I am SICK of the repetition. If it would only get warm and dry, I'd be happy to work in the yard every day.
[5:30 a.m.–7:30 a.m.] Anyway, my day starts around 5:30 a.m. when Otis and Smokey, our kitties, jump on the bed and wake me up to feed them. They whine, almost speak, bite on my arms and hands gently, sit on my head...and Kevin SLEEPS right through all this!
I get up and go downstairs to the kitchen and feed them. Then I smoke my morning joint and check in on "Morning Joe" until around 7:30, when I go BACK to bed—until around 10:30.
[10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.] I turn on the TV and all day long it's between MSNBC, CNN, FOX and "Bar Rescue," while practicing the first part of the day's housewifery. And/or planning or prepping the dinner for that day. When I get home from the road, I am pretty much sick of restaurant food, so I cook almost everything.
[12 p.m.–2 p.m.] At noon, I work out for about an hour. I vocalize as often as I can, trying to help keep my voice in shape. But that is no substitute for doing my show. At 74, I worry that I won't come back as strong after this long a break. There is just so much sh*t to think about.
I then go down and say hey to Kevin, who is always working at the computer. I let the kitties in, feed them again, and let them out again. Check in on the TV (old movies from the '30s and '40s, political shows) while practicing more housewifery.
I am not a music enthusiast, so I don't listen to music for entertainment often. And I find reading boring, unless it's for information. I really, REALLY like television.
Occasionally, Kevin will holler out from his office, "Baby, come listen to this," and I go in and listen. It's usually something that he thinks I would sound good singing. Or something completely ridiculous. If it's good and it fits me, then it goes in my "To do" folder. That's about as much work as I do on music when I am not recording.
[2 p.m.–6 p.m.] I make lunch at around 2, do some other domestic chores, all the while watching TV and letting the kitties in and out. Sometimes the afternoons get broken up by phone interviews. And then I let the kitties in or out.
The one upside about this is that I smoke joints and drink champagne and wine so I can stay "mellow," as they used to say. And I can't quite do it like that while I'm working.
Then I round up the kitties for the last time and start making dinner, sometime between 6 and 8.
[6 p.m.–12 a.m.] Kevin and I meet after dinner to watch TV together. I also play solitaire through all this time to fill in the gaps. Until 11. Then Trevor Noah, Colbert's monologue, over to "Perry Mason," then Seth's monologue, then to bed and Alfred Hitchcock puts us to sleep.
Since I do not write my own material, that means that almost all of my income comes from live performances... Ughh. Thankfully, my husband is a hawk with money, so he is keeping us safe for the moment.
That is pretty much a day in the life of Betty Kiley, which is who I am when I'm not BEING Bettye LaVette. As scary as the current situation is, I think if we can all just hold on, we can beat this. In fact, I'm sure of it.
I'm so grateful to have my wonderful husband and my kitties here with me. I love you all, and I'll see you on the other side of this mess.
If you wish to support our efforts to assist music professionals in need, learn more about the Recording Academy's and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
If you are a member of the music industry in need of assistance, visit the MusiCares website.