Reflections: The woman she is

I have read a lot of great books in my time (my preferences are autobiographies and unauthorized biographies) and one my favorites is the just-published “A Woman Like Me,” a tell-all by Detroit’s own Bettye LaVette, who had to wait so long for major stardom. This book is exciting because it is built on total honesty.

Reader Greg Hendricks, a native Detroiter who now lives in Brooklyn, e-mailed, “Oh my goodness! I am absolutely loving this lady! Her truth and candor are going to work some nerves, but her journey I am totally accepting. This book has given me so much strength and life insight. I’m recommending it to everyone I know.”

Mind you, “A Woman Like Me” is not for the overly sensitive or the overly pious. Keep that in mind.

LaVette is in the big time now, being paid handsomely for performances, even singing for two presidents. (She is big supporter of President Obama.)

One of the interesting things Bettye has said to yours truly over the years is that she, for the most part, prefers the company of men over women, although she has female friends too.

“I’m a man’s woman,” she writes in the book. “It’s fascinating, and easy, for me to see life from a man’s point of view. God bless psychologists, but my instinct was to survive as a singer and prevail as a person. It didn’t take a genius to realize that men held the key to that survival.”

On one occasion in the ’90s she had just performed as part of a show that included several well-known Black female singers. She made it clear to them that this was business, that she viewed them, in a sense, as competition, and that she had no interest in being girlfriends, going shopping, engaging in girl talk, etc.

Hey, that’s Bettye! We have been friends forever. She always speaks the truth. Her book is red hot, and some of things she reveals about herself and others, including many celebrities, are shocking.

SPEAKING OF unadulterated honesty, there is Ava Cherry. She used to sing background for Luther Vandross and, before that, was a background singer for rock superstar David Bowie, who has been married to supermodel Iman for a long time. (She has also made records on her own.)

It is no secret in show business and media circles that Bowie was at one time intimately involved with another rock icon, Mick Jagger. (I don’t judge.) What was surprising was when Cherry acknowledged, “Even though I was in bed with them many times, I ended up just watching them. They practically lived together for several months.”

Well, as John Lennon put it, “Whatever gets you through the night…”

As you may have heard, just as expected, new “American Idol” judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj have already clashed — at an auditions session. (Just think, the new season isn’t even being aired yet!) Minaj reportedly referred to Carey as “her f—— highness.”

Let’s hope things calm down before the new season starts — and that they don’t get into an on-air battle like Wendy Williams and Omarosa did on Williams’ show a while back. But, on the other hand, let’s face it, most of the viewers and the media love this sort of thing, and the ratings would reflect that. Night right, but true.

JOHN LEGEND, whose real name, by the way, is John Stephens, reports that he believes that his upcoming album, “Love in the Future,” will be “the best album of my career so far.” In fact, he is so deeply involved in recording it that he decided to push back his fall tour.

The family of Whitney Houston, who died early this year, should be ashamed of themselves. They are getting all set for the debut of “The Houstons: On Our Own,” a reality show (yet another one!) that focuses of them “adjusting” after Whitney’s passing. It will air on the Lifetime channel and is scheduled to be introduced late this month. No doubt, plenty of money will be made. It all seems wrong on so many levels.

We all know what a great songwriter Curtis Mayfield was (“People Get Ready,” “Giving Him Something He Feel,” etc.), but there is a line in one my favorites, “Let’s Do It Again” by the Staples Singers, that I have never understood. It goes, “I’m not a girl that could linger, but a feel like a Butterfinger.” Now what does that mean?

It’s great that Samuel L. Jackson is out there promoting Barack Obama as Nov. 6 approaches, but it seems a bit much for him to have told a segment of the community to “Wake the f— up!” However, Mr. Obama, appreciative of the support, probably found it amusing.

BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that well known and much respected singer-pianist Jo Thompson, who is from Detroit, was the first person to ever sing the standard “For Once In My Life,” written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden.

MEMORIES: “Walk On By” (Dionne Warwick), “I Am Changing” (Jennifer Holliday), “Son of a Preacher Man” (Dusty Springfield), “If You’re Not Back in Love By Monday” (Millie Jackson), “Push It” (Salt-N-Pepa), “Spirit of the Boogie” (Kool & the Gang), “Slip Away” (Clarence Carter), “Young Hearts Run Free” (Candi Staton), “September” (Earth, Wind & Fire).

BLESSINGS to Katherine Shaffner, Derek Thornton, William Staiger, Paul Barker, Claudreen Jackson, Marlene Barrow-Tate, Sam Kemp, Ken Donaldson, Carol Smith Dixon and Janaya Black.

WORDS OF THE WEEK, from life coach and author Brad Bollenbach: “It tears you apart when you choose to define yourself by what other people think. Make authenticity your top priority.”

Let the music play!

 Steve Holsey can be reached at and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.


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