While Amy LaVere's voice may have the high, breathy tone of a young girl, she brings to her music the emotional peaks and valleys of a grown woman who has certainly seen her share of the world, and it's hard not to believe that her adventurous life has informed her work. LaVere was born Amy Fant, in a small town near the border of Texas and Louisiana to parents who were part-time musicians. Her family's nomadic life led LaVere to live in 13 different places before she finished high school, and when her folks finally settled in Detroit, she rejected the classic country sounds they doted on -- Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson were their favorites -- in favor of punk rock. LaVere played drums and sang in a Motor City punk band called Last Minute, but after graduating she grew restless and headed back to Louisiana, which turned out to be a brief stop on the way to a job in Nashville, working for a music management company. After settling in Nashville, LaVere met Gabe Kudela, who played with the barnstorming country-punk band the Legendary Shack Shakers. After a brief romance, LaVere and Kudela wed, and after she learned to play upright bass, the couple began playing nightclubs on Nashville's Lower Broadway as part of a group they called the Gabe & Amy Show; the band developed a loyal following in Nashville, and spawned another when they pulled up stakes and relocated to Memphis in 1999.
Although LaVere and Kudela's marriage broke up in 2003, LaVere's love of singing was stronger than ever, and she had developed a belated appreciation for classic country, blues, and jazz sounds that influenced her performing style. With the help of friends Paul Buchignani and Jason Freeman, LaVere began performing as a solo act, and after extensive gigging in the South LaVere caught the attention of Memphis-based independent label Archer Records, which released her striking debut album, This World Is Not My Home, in April of 2006. A little over a year later, LaVere's second long-player, Anchors & Anvils (produced by legendary Memphis musician and studio hand Jim Dickinson), arrived in stores. When not busy with her musical career, LaVere also dabbled in acting, playing rockabilly filly Wanda Jackson in the film Walk the Line and later appearing in Craig Brewer's Black Snake Moan.
Lavere delivered the five track Died of Love EP in 2009. Just after it's release, her menotr and producer Jim Dickinson passed away. This life changing event, combined with the end of a long term relationship with drummer Paul Taylor, sent her into a kind of personal tailspin. She documented the entire period on 2011's Stranger Me, which featured Taylor on drums--post breakup.
In 2012 LaVere contributed vocals to Lucero's Women & Work album, and became a member of Luther Dickinson's the Wandering, along with Sharde Thomas, Shannon McNally, and Valerie June. They recorded the full length Go On Now, You Can't Stay Here: Mississippi Folk Music, Vol. 3. Her collaborative relationship with Dickinson was so fruitful, she played on his solo record, Rock 'n' Roll Blues, and asked him to produce and play guitar on her next album. Runaway's Diary--that also featured Thomas, Will Sexton and Tim Regan--was released in May of 2014. ~ Mark Deming