Texan vocalist Lavelle White is a stylist of power and inventiveness, and she's also an unheralded songwriting genius. She claims authorship of Bobby "Blue" Bland's immortal "Lead Me On," among other gems, and her latest CD, It Haven't Been Easy (Antone's), features no fewer than nine original compositions. White's vocal style is a steamy blend of aggression and vulnerability--even her most declamatory lines are tempered by a sense of wounded worldliness. Comfortable in a range of styles spanning from funky deep soul through Motown-esque pop and culminating in hard-driving Texas roadhouse raunch, White sings with unforced melodic sureness and rhythmic ease: her timbre remains strong even when she tones it down to a near whisper. And even at her most powerful she never resorts to the kind of cheap tricks--bellows, screeches--that too many singers rely on when they get in over their heads. But her technical gifts, as impressive as they are, remain secondary to her bare-nerved presentation--at its best, White's music can take you where less courageous artists fear to tread. Friday, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333. Saturday, 9 PM, Frankie's Blue Room, 16 W. Chicago, Naperville; 630-416-4898. DAVID WHITEIS
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Lavelle White photo by James Fraher.