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Beth Hart

Beth Hart emerged in the 2010s as a formidable singer and songwriter on the contemporary blues scene. Her rise to stardom was a long time coming. Hart first made inroads as a contestant on Star Search in 1993 and had a brief period where she was pushed as a possible adult alternative act, landing a slot on the 1996 Lollapalooza tour. A series of bad business breaks and personal troubles kept her on the margins throughout the 2000s, but in 2011, she teamed up with blues guitar hero Joe Bonamassa for Don't Explain and the collaboration rejuvenated her career. Alternating between records with Bonamassa and solo albums, Hart developed a reputation as an incisive, soulful songwriter and a powerful vocalist. She took artistic risks on her records, too, changing her backing musicians and collaborating with superstar producer Rob Cavallo for her stark, intimate 2019 album War in My Mind; he also produced her 2022 A Tribute to Led Zeppelin. Hart was a child prodigy of sorts. She was four years old when she started playing piano and wound up attending the High School for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, majoring in vocal and cello. Soon, she gravitated toward blues. When she was in her late teens, she began playing L.A.'s club circuit, but her first breakthrough arrived when she won the Female Vocalist portion of Star Search in 1993. Taking home the prize didn't give her a career boost. She earned her reputation playing in clubs, often in a combo with guitarist Jimmy Khoury, bassist Tal Herzberg, and drummer Sergio Gonzalez. This became the Beth Hart Band, and the group signed to Atlantic's Lava subsidiary, releasing their debut Immortal in 1996. Despite landing a few slots on the 1996 Lollapalooza tour, Immortal didn't turn into a hit and the Beth Hart Group soon disbanded. Hart stayed on Atlantic for her solo debut, 1999's Screamin' for My Supper. Its single "L.A. Song (Out of This Town)" performed well on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart, and Hart also earned attention playing the lead role of Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway production Love, Janis. Personal troubles, including addiction, slowed Hart's progress in the early 2000s. She left Atlantic and signed with Koch, releasing Leave the Light On in 2003. Leave the Light On found some success in various territories throughout the world, particularly New Zealand and Europe. "Learning to Live" became a number one hit in Denmark and she sustained her European popularity, recording the 2005 concert album Live at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, and releasing 37 Days on the continent in 2007. 37 Days wrapped up her major-label contract, so Hart signed with Provogue in 2010, releasing My California that year. Over the next couple of years, My California scored television placements, leading to the album getting a belated American release in 2012. During those two years, she strengthened her connections with musicians, appearing on Slash's eponymous 2010 album, then playing with Jeff Beck at the Kennedy Center in 2006. Hart's most fruitful collaboration was with Joe Bonamassa, a hotshot blues guitarist with a strong fan following. In 2011, the pair released the duet album Don't Explain, which turned into a Blues hit and raised her profile considerably. The increased exposure helped her 2012 album Bang Bang Boom Boom -- which, like Don't Explain, was produced by Kevin Shirley -- become her first solo album to appear on the Billboard Blues Album chart. She reunited with Bonamassa for Seesaw in 2013, which wound up snagging her a Grammy nomination for Best Blues Album. The pair released the concert album Live in Amsterdam in 2014, which topped the Billboard Blues chart. The solo Better Than Home arrived in 2015, followed by Fire on the Floor in 2016 (the album received a stateside release in 2017). Hart and Bonamassa released the covers album Black Coffee in 2018; it was another Blues chart topper. That same year, Hart released a pair of live albums -- Front and Center: Live from New York and Live at the Royal Albert Hall -- but her next major project was War in My Mind, an introspective, ballad-heavy record produced by Rob Cavallo that appeared in September 2019. During the recording of War in My Mind, Hart sang an unprompted version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" during a break. Impressed, Cavallo suggested that Hart record a full album of Zeppelin songs, thereby planting the seeds for A Tribute to Led Zeppelin, a 2022 record that was also produced by Cavallo.
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