Bettye Lavette sings The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl

Bettye Lavette
Bettye Lavette
Photo by Carol Friedman

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This weekend, singer Bettye Lavette will join Todd Rundgren, Patti Austin and others for a Hollywood Bowl concert dedicated to The Beatles. KPCC's Alex Cohen chatted with Lavette at a recent rehearsal for the show.

Forty-five years after the Beatles played the Hollywood Bowl, the venue will celebrate the musical innovations and greatest symphonic moments of the most popular rock band of all time. For her contributions, singer Bettye Lavette will perform "Come Together," "Blackbird," "We Can Work It Out" and "Here, There and Everywhere."

Lavette is known for her wonderful raspy voice and her fresh approach to the songs of other people.

Her latest album "Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook" features covers from bands running the gamut from Moody Blues to Led Zeppelin. Her approach to the Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" sounds totally different from the original. But Lavette says she doesn't consider her covers radical reinterpretations.

"I have to sing the song exactly like me," she says, "I don't break the song down and reconstruct it.... I just sing it like I hear it!"

Lavette says she can't sing any song unless she finds some emotional honesty in the song. She says she never sings a tune unless she would actually speak the lyrics. "I'm an old woman looking people in their eyes," she says, "I have to make sense, I can't just speak gibberish."

The Hollywood Bowl performances begin at 8:30 pm on Friday, July 9 and 10, and at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 11th.