Lavelle White

Lavelle White


The "grande dame" of Texas Blues, winner Best Blues Artist at Austin Music Awards in 2006, inducted into Texas Music Hall of Fame, writer of hits for Bobby Blue Bland and Johnny Copeland, this soul singer full of mojo should be seen as well as heard.


In 1994, Miss Lavelle White's long-overdue debut for Antone's/Discovery Records, Miss Lavelle, trumpeted the triumphant return of one of the most captivating chanteuses in the history of Texas rhythm and blues. Now the lady is back with her eagerly awaited Antone's encore, It Haven't Been Easy. The disc was recorded with such rock-solid Antone's regulars as guitarist Derek O'Brien, saxman supreme Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff, and drummer George Rains in staunch support.
"I think the new album is great. We've got some great people on it," Lavelle says. "It all came out really good. It's different from the other album. It's not as much of a blues thing. It's bluesy, but it's more dance stuff. It's got real good lyrics, but it's dance stuff."

Like Miss Lavelle, the new set showcases White's prolific songwriting talents in addition to her seductive voice. "I write all the time," she says. "Sometimes I might skip four or five months before I write, and then I sit down and write a whole month."

Lavelle finds songwriting inspiration even in the most mundane necessities. "You can find it anywhere if you look for it," she says. "Some people don't understand that. But inspiration is in trees and birds and bees and ground, land, grass--everything! It's simple. It could be in a pillow, an umbrella, a suitcase, a TV, a lamp in the house, a chair. It can be in a mirror, like I wrote 'Go To The Mirror' (one of the many standout cuts on Miss Lavelle). It could be the curtains hanging on the window, the blinds. Anything like that. You gotta think fast, though. You gotta be thinking about what you're doing.

Along with all the tasty new originals flowing from Lavelle's pen, It Haven't Been Easy sports a handful of well-chosen covers. "I did this old tune that Earl King and Johnny 'Guitar' Watson did, 'Those Lonely, Lonely Nights,'" she says. "The I did O.V. Wright's 'Don't Let My Baby Ride.' And I covered (Eddie Floyd's) 'I've Never Found A Girl.' But I said, 'I've Never Found A Man.'"

It Haven't Been Easy is another happy reunion for Miss Lavelle with Texas guitar wizard Clarence Hollimon, who added his vicious licks to many of Bobby "Blue" Bland's early waxings for Houston's Duke Records (more recently, Hollimon has cut two fine CDs for Black Top with his wife, singer Carol Fran). "He is a great guitarist," says Lavelle. He is wonderful. He's gotten better. He was great then, but he is greater now."

Clarence and his piano-playing brother Sweets were among Lavelle's earliest musical cohorts on the swinging 1950s Houston blues circuit. The Amite, Louisiana-born White moved to Houston when she was 15 and was singing in local nightclubs with Hollimon by the time she was 21.

Another Houston guitar master, Johnny Copeland, was responsible for getting Lavelle her first recording contract in 1958. "I was working with him at the time I wrote "If (I Could Be With You),'" she recalls. "He liked the song so much, he said, 'Well, I tell you what I'm gonna do. Let's tape it.'"

Duke Records boss Don Robey was suitably impressed with the results to sign "Miss La-Vell" (as she was billed on her early 45s) to a contract. She remained with the label into 1964, cutting such Gulf Coast gems "Yes I've Been Crying" (redone on Miss Lavelle), "Stop These Teardrops" (originally done in New Orleans with Dr. John on Piano), and the sassy "Why Young Men Go Wild."

"Everybody seems to like that," she says of the last tune. "That's a silly song. It's about these guys outside of my apartment fighting." Why were they arguing? "I don't know!" she exclaims. "I wasn't going down there. But they was having a ball!" It Haven't Been Easy also boasts a remake of one of Lavelle's Duke sides, "You're The Most."

Lavelle toured extensively with her Duke labelmates Bobby Bland and Junior Parker. "It was great," she says. "Junior was one of the nicest persons. I never did get a chance to get to Bobby too much. We was on the show, but there was like four or five more acts. He was the head of the show. So I Never got the chance to really get to talk to him too much, like I did Junior."

Incidentally, Lavelle wrote "Lead Me On" for Bland, and it became a Top 10 R&B hit for him in 1960. But you won't find her listed as writer on Bland's Duke 45; instead, Robey's nom de plume, Deadric Malone, is credited. "I sold it to Robey," she says. "I was young then. I didn't care."

Bland and Parker weren't the only R&B superstars to share a stagebill with Lavelle during the 1960s. She crossed paths with the legendary Sam Cooke and Otis Redding as well. "They were great people," she reminisces. "Otis Redding was just as nice and mellow, just like a little lamb. Sam, he was rowdy and friendly. He got around. He was a wonderful guy, too. I toured with Jerry Butler, the Drifters, the Isley Brothers, James Brown. I was on a show in Hollywood at the Palladium with Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and a lo


Into the Mystic
It Haven't Been Easy
Miss Lavelle

Set List

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