Hailed by The New York Times as “one of the great soul interpreters of her generation,” Bettye LaVette is a vocalist who can take any type of song and make it completely her own. LaVette is one of very few of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the 1960s, and is still creating vital recordings today.

She was born Betty Jo Haskins on Jan. 29, 1946, in Muskegon, Mich. Her family moved to Detroit when she was six years old. Her parents sold corn liquor and their living room was oftentimes visited by the Soul Stirrers, the Blind Boys of Mississippi, and many other travelling gospel groups of the day. Unlike many of her contemporaries, LaVette did not get her start in the church, but in that very same living room.

Her troubles with various record labels would result in much of her strongest work barely being heard. The 2003 live album A Woman Like Me finally earned her a hearing from American soul music enthusiasts, and 2005’s I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise was a studio set that presented her in utterly uncompromised fashion and demonstrated that she was one of the strongest and savviest soul singers alive. A series of critically celebrated albums followed.

This month, LaVette released her new album, simply titled LaVette! She chose to cover songs that were written by Randall Bramblett, the Georgia musician who has worked with Gregg Allmann, Bonnie Raitt, and many more.

LaVette joined us in the Gumbo Kitchen for a conversation.