Jackie Scott – Norfolk blues
Jackie Scott, a Norfolk blues singer does not mind being identified as a blues singer. In fact, she encourages it and will speak passionately and at length about “the blues” – what it means, why it matters and why it must be passed along to new generations of young players. But Jackie Scott acknowledges that her influences draw on jazz, gospel and other forms of music.
“Once you discover that gospel and blues are first cousins, the transition is easy,” Scott said. “When I sing gospel, I hear the blues. When I sing blues, I hear gospel.” She will be singing them on Wednesday night at what has become a regular annual gig at the Hampton History Museum.
She is 61 and still works a regular day job, and in recent years she has cut back her performing schedule to spend more time with grandkids and other family. Scott is from Norfolk but has been a vibrant part of the Hampton music scene over the past decade through her work with a Chicago-based blues camp for young musicians that fostered a burgeoning blues scene on the Peninsula. “You’ve got to get them hooked on something,” she said. “It might as well be music. Once you start playing, it’s as addictive as anything.”
The Hampton Jazz Festival
Scott designed this appearance at the history museum as a homecoming for one of her proteges – William “MoBetta” Ledbetter, a 2014 Kecoughtan graduate who first drew attention as a blues guitar prodigy. Just a few weeks after his high school graduation he backed her on stage at the Hampton Coliseum as one of the few teens to ever perform at the Hampton Jazz Festival.
William “MoBetta” Ledbetter
Today he is 24 and making a living as a stand-up bassist for hire out of Greensboro. He keeps a busy enough schedule that he rarely has an opportunity to get home to the Peninsula, so Scott invited him for a couple of gigs. On New Year’s Eve at the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg, he joined her backing band, the Housewreckers, for a full set of the blues.
Ledbetter turned back the clock and spent most of the night playing guitar, but he picked up his towering bass to accompany Scott on one special number they are developing – a stripped-down and bluesy take on Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday.” “We had hardly rehearsed that at all, so it was interesting to see how it would come out on stage,” Ledbetter said later. “There was a point in the song where she came to a quick stop after a certain line, and I came to a stop at the same time. There was this moment of silence and then we started up again. None of that was planned, but that’s the kind of magic that can happen with music.”
Scott and the Housewreckers
Ledbetter is excited about playing in his hometown and thrilled to work a few dates with Scott and the Housewreckers.
“I love playing with Jackie and (guitarist Mark Hopkins) so much,” Ledbetter said. “I learned a lot watching Mark on guitar – so much about technique and tone. He’d say that’s BS, but it’s true, man. I was always learning from him.”
When he graduated from Kecoughtan, Ledbetter enrolled at North Carolina A&T and studied engineering, hesitant to bank his future on a career in music. That lasted about a year; then he transferred to UNC Greensboro and switched fully to an education in music. He enjoys the fruits of that education now and touring with jazz drummer Kobie Watkins in the spring. As for a longer vision, he said he just wants to be “a musician and an artist,” continuing to develop his skills.
“I don’t want to limit myself, because I feel like I’m breaking down barriers in my own mind,” Ledbetter said. “Maybe I’ll shift focus, but it will be the same elements – doing what I enjoy. Right now, I’m playing upright bass and I can still play guitar when I want to. I just want to keep playing and keep learning.”
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Mike Holtzclaw / Daily Press – By MIKE HOLTZCLAW – THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT
Picture 1 – Norfolk blues singer Jackie Scott performs at the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg on Dec. 32, 2019. (Mike Holtzclaw / Daily Press)
Picture 2 – Local act Jackie Scott performs with William Mobetta Ledbetter to open up the 2014 Hampton Jazz Festival. Rob Ostermaier Daily Press
Picture 3 – Hampton native William MoBetta Ledbetter accompanies blues singer Jackie Scott on guitar at the Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg on New Years Eve 2019. Mike Holtzclaw Daily Press