As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues to shake up the music industry, the Recording Academy reached out to a few musicians to see how they were spending their days indoors. Today, GRAMMY-nominated Blues Hall of Fame inductee Bettye LaVette shares his quarantine diary. LaVette’s new album, blackbirdsarrives August 28. The album‘s first single, “I Hold No Grudge”, is available now.
Best wishes to all from West Orange. This is Bettye LaVette reporting.
I have been asked to talk about my daily activities during this terrible coronavirus attack. Most people know that I’m not very active on social media, although I have been recently. But I love talking to people in person, and I HATE typing. Anyway, here it is…
I came home from my last gig on February 3 and haven’t been out of the house except for some yard stuff since.
My husband Kevin goes to the store once a week. He doesn’t want me exposed. As I was considered part of the “old people”. LOL.
Although stuck at home, my days are pretty much the same as before the stay-at-home rule came into effect. Except it’s EVERYDAY, instead of being mixed with working days. And I must say that I’m tired of the repetition. If it were warm and dry, I would be happy to work in the yard every day.
[5:30 a.m.–7:30 a.m.] Anyway, my day starts around 5:30 a.m. when Otis and Smokey, our kitties, jump on the bed and wake me up to feed them. They moan, almost talk, gently bite my arms and hands, sit on my head…and Kevin SLEEPS through it all!
I get up and go down to the kitchen and feed them. Then I smoke my morning joint and listen to “Morning Joe” until about 7:30, when I go back to bed – until about 10:30.
[10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.] I turn on the TV and the whole day is between MSNBC, CNN, FOX and “Bar Rescue”, while practicing the first part of the housewife of the day. And/or plan or prepare dinner for that day. When I come back from the road, I’m tired of eating out, so I cook almost everything.
[12 p.m.–2 p.m.] At noon, I train for about an hour. I vocalize as often as I can, trying to keep my voice in shape. But that doesn’t replace my show. At 74, I’m afraid of not coming back as strong after this long break. There are so many things to think about.
I then go downstairs and say hello to Kevin, who is still working on the computer. I let the kittens in, fed them again and let them out again. Watch TV (old movies from the 30s and 40s, political shows) while doing more housekeeping.
I’m not a music fan, so I don’t often listen to music for entertainment. And I find reading boring, unless it’s for information. I really, REALLY like television.
Every once in a while, Kevin yells from his office, “Baby, come listen to this,” and I come in and listen. It’s usually something he thinks I’d sound good singing. Or something completely ridiculous. If it’s good and it’s okay with me, then it goes in my “To Do” folder. That’s about as much work as I do on the music when I’m not recording.
[2 p.m.–6 p.m.] I make lunch around 2 a.m., do other chores, while watching TV and letting the kittens in and out. Sometimes the afternoons are interrupted by telephone interviews. And then I let the kittens in or out.
The only advantage is that I smoke joints and drink champagne and wine to stay “sweet”, as they say. And I can’t quite do it like that while I’m working.
Then I gather the kittens for the last time and start preparing dinner, between 6 and 8 am.
[6 p.m.–12 a.m.] Kevin and I meet after dinner to watch TV together. I also played solitaire the whole time to fill in the gaps. Until 11 a.m. Then Trevor Noah, Colbert’s monologue, over “Perry Mason”, then Seth’s monologue, then in bed and Alfred Hitchcock puts us to sleep.
Since I don’t write myself, that means almost all of my income comes from live performances…Ughh. Luckily, my husband is a money hawk, so he’s protecting us for now.
It’s pretty much a day in the life of Betty Kiley, which is who I am when I’m not Bettye LaVette. As scary as the current situation is, I think if we can all hold on, we can beat this. In fact, I’m sure.
I am so grateful to have my wonderful husband and my kittens here with me. I love you all, and I’ll see you on the other side of this mess.
If you would like to support our efforts to help music professionals in need, learn more about The Recording Academy and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
If you are a member of the music industry and need help, visit the MusiCares website.