“Betty Carter” by Kate Shaffer
Artist: Kate Shaffer
Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 36″ x 24″
Description: Betty Carter: born Lillie Mae Jones in 1929 she was raised to be very independent and there was little close affection in her family. She always felt the lack even into adulthood. Her parents did not want her to pursue a singing career so Betty would sneak out at age 16 to audition for local shows. Being brought up in the Detroit hot bed of jazz, Betty introduced a new singing style to the world of jazz. The breathiness she had became her trademark as did her ability to sing “scat”. She signed with a talent agent after winning a singing contest and had the opportunity to sing with jazz greats Dizzy Gillespie and Charley Parker. It was receiving the praise of these men that made Betty realize she could really make a go of this profession. Shortly after Lionel Hampton signed her to sing with his band. She had great opportunities while with the band but also many conflicts with bandleader Hampton. He did not like her independent nature or her scat singing and she did not like his “swing” style and openly refused to sing the songs his way. She honed her ability to sing scat against his objections. During the two and a half years Betty sang with Hampton’s band he fired her a total of 7 times. Being with the band opened many doors for Betty and by 1951 she left the band for NYC. Betty sang all over the city for little to no pay. She felt it was necessary to “pay her dues”. It did give her the opportunity to sing at the Apollo Theater which gave her the notoriety she deserved. She toured with Ray Charles in the 1960’s but by refusing to sing pop music style and was nearly 40 which was not conducive to popularity in that time period. She started her own record label in 1969 which was the only label to record her music for the next 18 years. By the late 1970’s she began to rise in popularity. In 1980 she was the subject of a documentary which brought her again to the public attention. 1988 brought her a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Album and a guest appearance on The Cosby Show. 1994 She sang at the White House and at Carnegie Hall. In 1997 she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. Betty continued to tour and sing until her death from pancreatic cancer in 1988.
Commission a smaller version, 16×20 for $700 each.