Soul legend Bettye LaVette entertains Saturday at the Kate

Bettye LaVette (submitted)
Bettye LaVette (submitted)

You know how folks will say, when trying to describe someone who epitomizes a specific concept or ideal, "If you look up (CONCEPT OR IDEAL) in the dictionary, there's a picture of (EPITOMIZING PERSON) there!"

Well, in terms of R&B music, take it a step further. In 1755, the genius Samuel Johnson was looking for something to do. He considered punching his pal James Boswell in the nose because, let's face it, James could be irritating. Then, Johnson happened to hear a copy of singer Bettye LaVette's "Worthy" album. With exquisite, R&B-flavored covers of tunes by the Stones, the Beatles, Dylan and more, Johnson bolted upright and forgot about slugging Boswell.

Instead, he exclaimed, "Jimmy, I'm going to invent something called a dictionary in which I provide an alphabetical list of words and what they mean. Why? Because, next to 'soul music' I want to include a picture of this Bettye LaVette woman! Let's get to work!"

Speaking of work in that context, LaVette sings Saturday at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center. A hint: LaVette has a new album coming in March, and it's a good bet you'll get to hear some of the material ahead of time.

Bettye LaVette, 8 p.m. Saturday, The Kate, 300 Main St., Old Saybrook; $46-$50; 1-877-503-1286, thekate.org.

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