Bet Williams,
An interview by Jen Kopf
(March 1997)

She's done the concerts at churches, the independent releases, the incessant touring. She's moved to California, the better to audition band members. She's a woman at a time when female musicians can get mainstream media attention -- if not always mainstream radio play.

And now, Bet Williams' fans figure she's on the brink of being The Next Big Thing.

Whatever, says Williams. She's busy touring, enjoying that band, and flooring people with a strong stage presence and a voice that's by turns bluesy, sentimental and folk rock.

"You know, I'll think, 'that's great,'" Williams says of the rock press's current fascination with female musicians. "But, then it's more like, 'that's great. Now: What else?' I don't feel so separatist. I guess I'm more concerned about whether the music's good."

With several releases already under her belt, Williams now is touring with Ooh la la, on Big Slim Records. The title tune, the first track, is built for cruising down the road with the roof top open. The half dozen other songs on the release are by turns wistful and energetic. The tune "California," about a big move out west, Williams says, is her current love.

She came to music via a rather traditional route, getting a love of music from her parents, whose collection of Broadway show tunes and classical music traveled with them as they moved from place to place as an Army family.

"I took piano lessons and all that," Williams says, but she left the show-tune style of music to her sister.

"I said, 'No, I want to be a beatnik poet, play in coffeehouses,'" Williams says with a laugh. Turns out, she's pretty good at it.

"Lyrical and musical punch," says folk magazine Dirty Linen. The Washington Post loved her "wry word play (and) contagious rhythms." And her voice, lovestruck in "Thinking About You," joyously buoyant in "Ooh la la," can't be ignored.

Her sound, she says, has become more electric than it was when she spent four years based in Philadelphia.

"Working with a band has been great," she said. "I bring in my new songs and they just add so much. Plus, it's a band of all guys," she jokes. "With the women getting all the attention, I figured I'd better give some of the men a job."

[ by Jen Kopf ]