Her voice, its pace and tone and heart takes me wherever it is she’s going and will not let go. It is such a unique sound and style. Excited and exuberant, but also throaty and smooth like a dark drink of the Gods, like dancing with the lights dimmed, holding someone you’ve just met.
This sound has a sense of independence and unpredictability, an individualism and strength that seems to make all of us equals, although she’s the only one who can sing like that. She’s a woman, a musician, songwriter, artist, and businesswoman driving a really shiny red car. She’ll roll on by, letting you see the whole thing, or speed off communicating something else entirely.
If you don’t go away from that sound every now and then, you accept it as possible and natural and it can be taken for granted. But each time I hear it anew, I’m amazed that anyone can create something so rich and strong and beautiful.
Her choice of accompanying musicians was a standard in the business, letting people know that this cat could play. He had made the cut. The results are there to hear. He lifting her, and she taking him with her.
Betty Carter was and is beyond imitation. She had no secrets. In person, on record, her voice said everything necessary.