Bette Smith

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Bette Smith
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BornBrooklyn, New York (State)
  • Soul music
  • Soul
  • Rock music
  • Rock
  • Blues music
  • Blues
Years active2005–present
  • Ruf Records
  • Cleopatra Records
  • Big Legal Mess Records
Associated acts
  • Drive-By Truckers
  • Jimbo Mathus
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd
  • Kirk Fletcher
  • Jesse Johnson
  • Joe Louis Walker
  • Fabrizio Grossi & Soul Garage Experience

Bette Smith is an American soul, rock and blues singer, known for soulful rock music and her debut album Jetlagger and its 2020 follow-up.

Early Life and Career

Sharon Meriel Kathleen Smith, known professionally as Bette Smith, grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York (state). Though her Trinidadian parents forbade her to listen to secular music, her father, a choir director in the Seventh Day Adventist church the family attended, taught her to sing,[1] leading to frequent featured roles in the church's gospel choir.[2] Mahalia Jackson and Reverend James Cleveland became major early influences.

She also listened to secular artists like Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson when she could. With these and her gospel influences, she released an album called From The Well Of My Inner Child in 2006 using the stage name "Bette Stuy." But she was not yet pursuing singing as a full-time career. Instead, she graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles in 2010, and studied at The New School in New York City, where in 2014 she earned a B.S. in Liberal Arts with an emphasis on Creative Arts Therapy, and at Columbia University.[3] To earn a living she worked as a receptionist and on Wall Street.

She was inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame in 2012.[4]

In 2013 after her older brother Louis, dying of kidney failure, urged her to pursue her dreams of becoming a singer.[5] Again using the name Bette Stuy, she released in 2015 the EP Introducing Bette Stuy: This is Neo Blues,[6][7] put together a band, and continued playing at New York City clubs and on the street.


A musician who knew Jimbo Mathus of the Squirrel Nut Zippers heard her singing at a street fair and put her in touch with Mathus.[3] Mathus decided he wanted to work with her. She went to Mississippi with him and, with a live band,[8] they recorded her debut album as Bette Smith, Jetlagger.

On 26 July 2017 Billboard premiered the video for the track "Manchild." Jetlagger was released on 29 September 2017 on Big Legal Mess Records[9] (a subsidiary of Fat Possum Records).[3] It included original songs as well as covers by the Staples Singers and Isaac Hayes.[10]

In 2018 WNYC Studios' Radiolab invited her to contribute an original song to its compilation project called 27: The Most Perfect Album, with each track inspired by one of the 27 U.S. Constitutional amendments.[11] She chose the 13th Amendment and contributed her song "Happy Warrior."[12]

Jetlagger received reviews in major publications.[13][14] BrooklynVegan premiered the video[15] and PopMatters the audio[16] for the track "I Found Love."

Smith toured in Europe promoting the album, appearing in 2018 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland [17] and festivals in Spain, France and The Netherlands.[18] She toured Europe again in July 2019.[9][19][20]

Together with Kirk Fletcher she released the single "Dance Monkey" on Cleopatra Records on 6 February 2020. Also that year the same label released her single with Jesse Johnson, "Memories." The second Bette Smith album, The Good, the Bad and the Bette, came out on 25 September 2020 on blues label Ruf Records.

Produced by Drive-By Truckers’ Matt Patton and engineer Bronson Tew, The Good, the Bad and the Bette included three songs co-written by Smith[21] and includes contributions from Luther Dickinson from North Mississippi Allstars and Patterson Hood from Drive-By Truckers. Jim DeRogatis included it on his “Best Albums of 2020” list.[22] The track "Fistful of Dollars" reached #1 on the Roots Music Report in April 2021.[23]

Her bookings in summer and fall 2021 included U.S. tours with the Drive-By Truckers and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, an appearance at the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival,[24] and her own "Bustin’ Out of Brooklyn Tour ‘21."[25] In 2022 she performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.[26] Her studio collaborations in 2020 and 2021 included tracks with Joe Louis Walker, Larry Brown (musician)|Larry Brown, Fabrizio Grossi & Soul Garage Experience, and others.

On 25 February 2022 she and Kirk Fletcher released another single on Cleopatra Records, a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones song)|Brown Sugar."[27] Her summer 2022 festival bookings included Calgary Folk Music Festival, Blues From The Top Festival and Kitchener Blues Festival.

Personal Life

Bette Smith lives in Brooklyn, New York.[17] She is a cousin of gospel singer Wintley Phipps.[28]



Title Artist Year Label Producer
The Good, The Bad and The Bette Bette Smith 2020 Ruf Records Matt Patton, Bronson Tew
27: The Most Perfect Album Bette Smith, Dolly Parton, They Might Be Giants, Devendra Banhart, Kevin Morby and Others 2018 Jad Abumrad, Suzie Lechtenberg, Julia Longoria, Alex Overington, Kelly Prime, Sarah Qari
Jetlagger Bette Smith 2017 Big Legal Mess Records Jimbo Mathus
Introducing Bette Stuy: This is Neo Blues as Bette Stuy 2015
From The Well Of My Inner Child as Bette Stuy 2006

Singles as Artist

Title Artist Year Label Producer
"Brown Sugar" Bette Smith and Kirk Fletcher 2022 Cleopatra Records
"Dance Monkey" Bette Smith and Kirk Fletcher 2020 Cleopatra Records
"Memories" Bette Smith and Jesse Johnson 2020 Cleopatra Records

Singles/Tracks as Featured Artist

Title Artist Year Label Producer
"Lady in Red" Joe Louis Walker feat. Bette Smith 2021 Cleopatra Records Scott Petito
"With or Without You" Fabrizio Grossi & Soul Garage Experience feat. Bette Smith 2021 Fabrizio Grossi
"Life & Larry Brown: Judgement Day" Larry Brown feat. Bette Smith et al. 2020 Fabrizio Grossi


  1. Jim Hynes (22 September 2020), Soul Singer Bette Smith Collaborates With Jimbo Mathus, Matt Patton on Vivacious ‘The Good The Bad The Bette’ (ALBUM REVIEW), Glide Magazine, retrieved 7 March 2022
  2. Andy Downing (1 September 2021), Soul belter Bette Smith is finally doing what she loves, Columbus Alive, retrieved 7 March 2022
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Elias Leight (26 July 2017), Bed-Stuy Soul Singer Bette Smith Talks ‘Cinderella Story’ Signing, Premieres ‘Man Child’ Video, Billboard, retrieved 10 March 2022
  4. An In Depth Interview with Bette Stuy, Making a Scene, 20 August 2016, retrieved 10 March 2022
  5. Jacob Uitti, Bette Smith Talks About What Went Into “Everybody Needs Love”, American Songwriter, retrieved 7 March 2022
  6. John Apice (26 June 2016), New Music from Fiery NY Blues Singer Inducted in NY Blues Hall of Fame 2012, No Depression, retrieved 15 March 2022
  7. EXCLUSIVE! ‘Enigma’ by Bette Stuy, Songwriting Magazine, 17 September 2015, retrieved 10 March 2022
  8. Album Review: Bette Smith – Jetlagger, Highway Queens, 9 February 2018, retrieved 14 March 2022
  9. 9.0 9.1 Annie Dinerman (29 May 2018), With Bette Smith at Bowery Ballroom, Elmore Magazine, retrieved 7 March 2022
  10. Bette Smith: Muscular Soul at a Fever Pitch, WNYC, 8 January 2018, retrieved 7 March 2022
  11. Bryan Kress (23 August 2018), ‘More Perfect’ Podcast Announces Compilation Album Inspired by 27 Amendments Ft. Dolly Parton, Kevin Morby & More, Billboard, retrieved 15 March 2022
  12. The Most Perfect Album, WNYC, retrieved 15 March 2022
  13. Hal Horowitz, Bette Smith: Jetlagger, American Songwriter, retrieved 7 March 2022
  14. Matthew Oshinsky (9 November 2017), Watch Bette Smith Perform Live at Paste, Paste Magazine, retrieved 10 March 2022
  15. Andrew Sacher (20 February 2018), Bette Smith Channels Classic Soul on Debut LP, Brooklyn Vegan, retrieved 10 March 2022
  16. Sarah Zupko (19 September 2017), BETTE SMITH – “I FOUND LOVE” (AUDIO) (PREMIERE), PopMatters, retrieved 10 March 2022
  17. 17.0 17.1 Scott Enman (19 April 2019), How Bette Smith, Soul Singer, Spends Her Sundays, New York Times, retrieved 7 March 2022
  18. Bette Smith, Moulin Blues, 4 May 2018, retrieved 15 March 2022
  19. Jessica Saval (5 March 2018), ÉCOUTER Bette Smith remet la soul au goût du jour, Rolling Stone, retrieved 7 March 2022
  20. BluesCazorla; 25 años y tan fresco, Cazorla, retrieved 10 March 2022
  21. Simon Redley, Bette Smith: The Good, The Bad And The Bette (Ruf Records) 25th September 2020, Music Republic Magazine, retrieved 7 March 2022
  22. Best Albums of 2020, Sound Opinions, 11 December 2020, retrieved 7 March 2022
  23. The Roots Music Report's Top 50 Soul Blues Song Chart for the Week of Apr 10, 2021, Roots Music Report, retrieved 14 March 2022
  24. Bette Smith, Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, retrieved 7 March 2022
  25. Evan F. Moore (5 August 2021), After pandemic time off, soul singer Bette Smith psyched about first Chicago-area show, seeing the sights, Chicago Sun-Times, retrieved 21 March 2022
  26. Bette Smith, Kennedy Center, retrieved 7 March 2022
  27. Bette Smith and Kirk Fletcher combine on new version of The Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar, Blues Matters, 20 January 2022, retrieved 10 March 2022
  28. Dary Nerl (11 August 2016), Bette Stuy’s business is the 'Neo-Blues', The Morning Call, retrieved 10 March 2022

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