- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2009

She’s been around for half a century, but for many listeners, soul singer Bettye LaVette — whose pair of acclaimed indie releases, including 2007’s Grammy-nominated “The Scene of the Crime,” kick-started a remarkable late-career surge — is a discovery. Whether they’re plying a craft to little fanfare or contemplating a new career altogether, Miss LaVette, 63, gives hope to late bloomers everywhere. She appears at the 9:30 Club Monday night.

1. Joseph Conrad — A giant of 20th-century English prose, the Polish “Heart of Darkness” author didn’t master the language until he was in his 20s. He spent the first half of his adulthood on the high seas with the British merchant navy. Those experiences gave him grist for the consequential new job — novelist — he began at age 36.

2. “Grandma” Moses — Her example is unavoidable. She gave up a career in embroidery because of arthritis and launched a successful career in painting in her 70s. (Note to potential late bloomers: It helps to live to 100.)

3. Rodney Dangerfield — The late comedian was an aluminum-siding salesman (who, we presume, got no respect) until he gave stand-up, his first love, another try.

4. Julia Child — It took years for the late cooking star to cultivate her talents. The book that led to her television career, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” was published in 1961, when she was 49.

5. Richard Farnsworth — He spent years on the margins of motion pictures, mostly Westerns, as a stuntman. A turn in 1982’s “The Grey Fox” won him notice. He was nominated for an Oscar for his lead role in 1999’s “The Straight Story” — a year before his death at 80.

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