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Interview: BETH HART

Rock Stars...  

Beth Hart

Beth Hart has always been like a shooting star...take a nano-second to blink, and it's already moved on. But for that wonderful moment, you saw "fireworks" like you've never experienced before.

Anybody who's ever seen Beth perform live or who's ever cranked up one of her albums knows she's for real. This woman sings from the depths of her soul, and her voice tells you stories and paints pictures that you just know have to be real...that come from real life and real experiences. And, yeah, while sometimes those experiences had her blazing across the sky, other times she just crashed and burned.

"At times, I've been really down in my life", Beth admits. "But you know, once you deal with it and make sense out of it, it can give you tremendous power."

Beth started her career as far down as it gets...performing in the streets of L.A., sitting cross-legged with an acoustic guitar and singing her heart out.

Beth Hart

And her first major gigs weren't in some concert hall or in some studio...she did the Chitlin' Circuit. And, let me tell you, you don't blow people away in those venues if you can't deliver. It's in this world that Beth's fuse got lit, and a few lucky people got to experience the heat.

Fortunately for Beth, one of those people was David Wolff, who was instrumental in breaking Cyndi Lauper into superstardom. He heard it, he felt it...and he got it.

Beth beams, "Wolff, Man...this dude has been way more than just a Manager to me for 18 years. He's one of my best friends...he's family."

And from that moment on, Beth went into lightspeed...unafraid to stretch out musically and try new genres. The only problem is that the world has had trouble keeping up with her...they started really getting into it and when they blinked, she had already moved on.

But, again, fortunately for Beth, along the way, there were people who were instantly attracted to her sparks and who really understood great music.

Beth Hart

She got signed to Atlantic Records, and three of music's top Producers, David Foster (produced such artists as Whitney Houston, Maria Carey, Celine Dion, Tony Braxton, Madonna and Michael Jackson), Hugh Padgham (Paul McCartney, The Police, Genesis and Sting) and Mike Clink (Guns N' Roses, Motley Crue and Jefferson Starship) were eager to work with her on first album, "Immortal."

This record sold very well in the Eastern U.S. and in faraway places like Africa, featuring the rockin' title track and the incredible soul anthem, "Am I The One?" The world had been officially introduced to the raw power that is Beth Hart...but they blinked, and she had already moved on.

Her second album, "Screamin' For My Supper", a collaboration with her long-time bass player and ultimately, renowned producer, Tal Herzberg (R.I.P., dear Tal) included more pop influences and yielded her Top 5 Adult Contemporary Hit, "L.A. Song (Out Of This Town)." Now she was at the top of the charts both in the U.S. and overseas, and the world started to take notice...but they blinked, and she had already moved on.

And, like so many "comets' before her, Beth was also starting to burn out. But, again, fortunately, people who loved her took notice. Her road manager (and eventually her husband), Scott Guetzkow, has always been right there for her. His strength helped lift her up and get her back on course.

"I am so lucky," Beth admits, "that I have Scott in my life. He's my rock and my reality check when things start getting out of hand."

Now, Beth was once again looking to the future. In 2003, she released her life-affirming 3rd album, "Leave The Light On," and the world felt the heat again. Billboard Magazine said, "One of the year's most affecting albums. The stuff of icons." But Beth still had places to go, so, when the world blinked, she had already moved on.

Beth Hart

And by 2004, her skyrocket sent her overseas to Holland and Denmark. This was an experience like no other...because she had really redefined the incredible energy that's Beth playing live.

Her 2005 release, "Live at Paradiso" captured one of her most electrifying performances in history, before a sold-out crowd at this Amsterdam landmark venue. From that moment on, she performed to sold-out audiences at concerts, festivals and clubs.

It was then that something really remarkable happened...Beth Hart, the raw, soulful singer from the streets of L.A., suddenly started to re-emerge. And Beth could feel it happening.
 


When I started making this record with Joe (Bonamassa), I got a feeling I haven't had in a long time. For Joe, it's all about the melody, and, as a singer, I feel so grateful to be working with someone who is so musically evolved.
 


"I was starting to wonder if I still had what it took to go all the way. The Europeans, who have always really understood American-born music forms, were right there for me. They've given me so much support and so much confidence...I really, really love them."

And Europe has rewarded her with hits for "L.A. Song (Out Of This Town)," "Leave The Light On," "Good As It Gets," "Take It Easy On Me," "I'll Take Care Of You," (with Joe Bonamassa), "Your Heart Is As Black As Night," (with Joe Bonamassa) and "Sister."

And, from that moment on, a lot more really savvy musical geniuses have been drawn to the incredible fire that is Beth Hart.
 


...working with Jeff (Beck) was like being with an enthusiastic and loving teenager. He gets totally inspired by other people's talents, and we really fed off of each other's energy!"
 


Slash (former lead guitar of the rock superband, Guns N' Roses) heard Beth and absolutely got it. She recorded a song with him called "Mother Maria" which is on the iTunes version of his solo album, "Slash."

Beth recalls working with Slash. "He's one of the mellowest musicians I've ever worked with...totally giving, a real team player."

One of the greatest Rock/Blues/Fusion guitarists of all times, Jeff Beck, felt it right away and asked her to perform with him. She was the first lead singer to do a U.S. tour with Beck since Rod Stewart. Now, that's saying something!

"Honest to God," Beth says, "working with Jeff was like being with an enthusiastic and loving teenager. He gets totally inspired by other people's talents, and we really fed off of each other's energy!"

During this time (2007-2010), Beth released two more albums, "37 Days", which produced the big hit in Europe, "As Good As It Gets" and her most personal work to date "My California", which has spawned the single, "Sister", now in heavy rotation on the U.K.'s BBC Radio.

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa

And maybe her greatest collaboration has happened in the last year. She met Blues/Rock superstar guitarist, Joe Bonamassa, and they crafted a truly visionary album, "Don't Explain," produced by Kevin Shirley (producer for Led Zeppelin, Journey, Rush and Iron Maiden).

And Beth really appreciates that something special has happened to her.

"When I started making this record with Joe, I got a feeling I haven't had in a long time. For Joe, it's all about the melody, and, as a singer, I feel so grateful to be working with someone who is so musically evolved. And Kevin Shirley is a genius. He gets you right to a place that makes you feel totally comfortable. He really knows how to work with artists." Beth and Joe plan to do another album together in 2013.

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa

Once again, thanks to "Don't Explain" and live gigs with Joe, the world has stood up and taken notice of Beth Hart. It has been nominated at the 23rd Blues Music Awards for "Contemporary Blues Album Of The Year." The Blues Rock Review has included the album in their "Top 20 Albums of 2011."

And maybe the London Times has said it best recently in their review of her concert at Dingwalls (and she is already sold out in Paris). "Don't Explain has lifted her to a new level of rock n' roll celebrity, and she was here to make the most of it."

And now the best news of all is that Beth isn't going away.
 


I feel like I've arrived at a place where I'm really comfortable and ready to go all the way. I'm going to put my whole heart and soul into blowing European audiences away.
 


So what's happened to Beth Hart...has she gone full circle, from the streets of L.A. to the Pop charts and now back her original raw soul? Maybe. Maybe her collaboration with Joe inspired her to reclaim her roots.

Has the world suddenly realized how amazing she is? When you look back at her career and all those who "got it from Day 1" (David Foster, Hugh Padgham, Mike Clink, Tal Herzberg, Billboard Magazine, the European Charts, Slash, Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa, Kevin Shirley, the Blues Music Awards, the Blues Rock Review and now the London Times and sold-out shows in France), it seems like it was right there all along.

Or maybe it's as simple as she and the world finally see each other eye-to-eye. At least that's how Beth sees it.

"I'm so grateful, Man. I feel like I've arrived at a place where I'm really comfortable and ready to go all the way. I'm going to put my whole heart and soul into blowing European audiences away. And then I'd like to bring all that energy back to the U.S. and remind them where I came from."

Doesn't sound like the shooting star has slowed down at all, does it?
 

Interview February 2012 Pete Feenstra

Beth Hart plays the Shepherds Bush Empire on Saturday February 25th; tickets available from 0844 871 8819, www.seetickets.com.

 


Album review

Gig review (29.11.11) & photo gallery

 


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