Sometimes lyrical, sometimes bluesy, Beth is a fine songwriter, guitarist, and singer, and her harmonica playing sets her apart from the pack. In 2008 she was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame and was named a finalist in the IMA.
On Oct. 22, the VALA Gallery in Kansas City hosted an evening of other performers singing Beth's original songs. A portion of the proceeds were donated to the MS Society.
Recording is complete on "Fallin'," which features Kathryn Lorenzen performing 10 co-written songs, due in early 2012.
In 2009, Beth's song "In the Daylight" was used in the TV hit show "Ghost Whisperer." Beth recently won the Independent Music Awards (IMA) cover song category for her version of "St. James Infirmary"!
Beth came from a musical family, and working in her father's music store in small town Ottawa, Kansas exposed her to every style of music. It was there that she began to pick up the blues-- her first "lessons" were from a nephew of KC Big Band great Bennie Moten.Not a bad place to start! In her teens Beth was drawn into the burgeoning new folk movement of the early '60s. She began playing guitar and singing, and soon she had a trio influenced by artists like Peter, Paul, and Mary, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan. In college she played solo in the coffeehouses in the Lawrence-Kansas City area. Her performances now featured original songs, but always included a core repertoire of blues songs like "St. James Infirmary" and "Come Back Baby."
"I remember the first time I heard St. James Infirmary. I must have been seven or eight. It was around Christmas and I was putting the nativity scene on the mantle. The TV was on one of those Sunday morning news and entertainment shows and someone, I swear it was Billie Holliday, came on and sang 'St. James' and I was blown away. I told myself right at that moment, 'That's what I want to do.' Something about the pain and emotion in it just reached in and grabbed me."
In the '70s Beth played the Kansas City club and coffeehouse scene and did college and club concerts in the from Washington, DC to Seattle, Washington. She was tapped for the opening act when Manfred Mann came to
KC at the height of their popularity, and the rave reviews she received led to many more opening gigs, including Jean Luc-Ponty, Billy Joel, Arlo Guthrie, Richard Thompson, Steve Goodman, Koko Taylor, New Grass Revival, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, Jorma Kaukonen, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Chris Smither, and many others. That Beth could reach audiences as diverse as this is a testament to her talent and to the accessibility of her music.
In 1980 Beth released her first LP (yes, vinyl) called "It's A Living . . ." which contained her original acoustic tunes along with her haunting version of the classic "Whiter Shade of Pale."
"Blues in Paradise" followed in 1987, gathering together her original blues songs along with several traditional standards like "St. James Infirmary."
Both releases were digitally remastered and re-released on CD by J-Bird Records in 1998-1999.
In 2000 released her long-awaited CD "Taking the Cure," which includes some of her most requested original material -- the title song, plus "The Nature of Things," "On the Diagonal," and "Living Doll," among others.
Beth has long been associated with Bob Dylan's material and in the fall of 2001 she released "Beth Loves Bob," a live-in-the-studio CD of her acoustic performances of some of her favorite Dylan songs. It has been well-received and has received international attention.
After selling through two pressings of "Blues in Paradise" -- one on cassette and later one on CD on J-Bird Records, in 2006 Beth released "Blues in Paradise Anniversary Edition" on her own Marais des Cygnes recordings label. It has all new art and includes several live recordings that did not appear on the original.
During the 1980's and 1990's Beth toured heavily in the midwest and across the country, and late in 2007 she released a special double CD of her live concerts from that time, "Roadwork: The Blues & Everything Else."
Since being diagnosed with MS in 2001 Beth has been spending more time writing and less time performing. She and collaborator/singing partner Kathryn Lorenzen just completed a new project, "Fallin'" featuring Kathryn performing 10 co-written songs.
Recently Beth was honored with an entire evening of other performers singing her original material. A portion of the proceeds went to the MS Society.
More About Beth Scalet
(rhymes with Gillette*)
On March, 2008 Beth was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame. Other recent inductees have included Melissa Etheridge, Martina McBride, Pat Metheny, and Big Joe Turner. To celebrate, she gathered songs from her previous CD releases and had them remastered to compile "Body of Work: The Best of Beth Scalet."
She has been honored as a songwriter numerous times, from the Billboard Song Contest (three times), the American Song Festival (3 times), and the American Songwriter's Association. In 2008 she was a winner in the Independent Music Awards for her version of "St. James Infirmary Blues." She has performed actively for over 30 years, bringing a mixture of original songs and select songs by others to audiences throughout the country. She figures she has played several thousand shows in her long career.
Her writing ranges from deep emotion to high wit, and her subject matter covers everything from traditional blues themes to vignettes about love and life in the new world to issues of concern to women in particular and humans in general -- domestic violence, eating disorders, addictive behaviors, homelessness -- and she handles them all with taste and insight. In short, Beth's versatility makes her difficult to pigeonhole. Beth accompanies herself on guitar and harmonica. Her unique fingerpicking style, bluesy voice, and range of material have endeared her to audiences in the Midwest and across the country.
She has been featured as the opening act with such greats as Billy Joel, Manfred Mann, Arlo Guthrie, Richard Thompson, Steve Goodman, Bill Monroe, Koko Taylor, and many others.
In 1981 she released "It's A Living . . . " (on vinyl) and in 1987 "Blues in Paradise" (on cassette). Both have been re-released on CD. In 2000 the all-original "Taking the Cure" was released.
Beth is a respected blues singer and harmonica player, and a talented writer of blues songs, as witnessed by her "Blues in Paradise" release. It showcases influences from R&B to Chicago-style to gospel.
Beth has long had a local reputation as a consummate interpreter of Bob Dylan's songs, and in 2002 she released "Beth Loves Bob," a tribute album that has been well-received by Dylan fans from all over.
Beth Scalet, acoustic guitar, vocals, and harmonica, songwriter
It's a Living . . . (J-bird Records)
Blues in Paradise (J-bird Records) (out of print)
Taking the Cure (marais des cygnes recordings)
Beth Loves Bob: The Songs of Bob Dylan (marais des cygnes recordings)
Blues in Paradise - Anniversary Edition (marais des cygnes recordings)
Roadwork: The Blues & Everything Else (marais des cygnes recordings)
Body of Work: The Best of Beth Scalet
Beth Scalet -- myspace
Who's Performing the Songs
The songs available here for play and download include Beth's released material (except for cover songs) and also some unreleased "demo" cuts.
Although Beth performs most of the songs, there are several collaborations with Kathryn Lorenzen that are performed by Kathryn. Some are unreleased, and some are from Kathryn's CD "Portfolio" (available from CD Baby), notably "Night in the City" and "Desert Heart."
Other collaborators also appear performing the material. "Wings" is performed by co-writer Rolf Gerhung.
If you have questions about the performers/performances, please feel free to drop Beth an e-mail!
What They Say About Beth
In 2008, Beth was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.
KLammy Nominees for Best Folk Artist,
Pitch Weekly (Kansas City's entertainment weekly)
"Beth Scalet is a local institution. . . she walks it like she talks it."
? Pitch Weekly, April 5, 2001
Acceptance as a Performing Member of Indiegrrl
Holly Figueroa, founder, the indiegrrl.com network:
"Your music touches people in places they didn't know even existed. You are a true pioneer, a trailblazer for women in music."
"Taking the Cure" (review)
Dr. Robert Kite, The Note
Scalet draws from the deep wells of American folk music, but the blues color her every musical move. Should you need a consumer-style grounding, let?s just say that Beth's music is not unlike Bonnie Raitt?s or Lucinda Williams.? . . . What Beth Scalet does isn't exactly revolutionary. Nevertheless, she has the kind of musical character and style that distinguishes her from the coffeehouse pack.
"It's A Living" (review)
OUT Weekly (Washington, DC)
"Scalet's voice is husky, something between [Janis] Ian and Bonnie Raitt, incredibly expressive, and touched with knowing, and forgiving, pain. At times just the sound of a particular phrase ending made my hair stand up."
Richard Thompson performance (review)
Kansas City Star (Robert Butler)
"In her opening act [before Richard Thompson], Beth Scalet . . a veteran of the Midwestern folk and coffeehouse scene . . . showcased her fine sense of humor and big bluesy voice."