Sharon Meriel Kathleen Smith, better known as Bette Smith, is one of the great figures of today’s southern soul. Born and raised in Brooklyn and the daughter of an Adventist church choir director, Bette Smith was already singing gospel and soul at an early age.
Her first album was “Jettlager”, in 2017, produced by Jimbo Mathus (founder of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and musician with Valerie June, Buddy Guy, Elvis Costello, Luther Dickinson and The Seratones), a live record in which Bette reconnected with her southern roots in Memphis and Mississippi. This work, which, according to Mathus, “far exceeded all expectations”, led the New Yorker to perform at the prestigious Montreaux Festival and to collaborate with Ray Charles after hearing her sing in a church of Los Angeles shortly before her death. Her brilliant live debut was followed by “The Good The Bad and The Bette” (2020), produced by Mike Patton, bassist of Drive-By Truckers, in which she explores the soul-rock and funk sound, and established her as a force of nature with a privileged voice.
Compared to pioneers such as Big Mama Thoronton, Bessie Smith or Koko Taylor, Bette Smith arrives at the Bilbao Blues Festival to make us vibrate with her passionate and energetic soul and rhythm and blues with Mississippi designation of origin.