Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Raised in Shreveport, La., her father Scott Butler is a high school band director who played saxophone with Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Ike & Tina Turner, and her mother Mary Butler is a school teacher. LaVerne is the oldest of five siblings (none of them musicians). She learned to sing by ear, listening to records of Ray Charles, Lou Rawls, Jerry Butler, and R&B singers from the mid-sixties(mostly male vocalists) Her first singing performance on stage was in a first grade musical. Her father pushed her toward a singing career - taking her on gigs as a teenager - but she was more interested in becoming an actress and playwright. At the University of New Orleans, she threw herself into English and drama studies and upon graduation became a high school English teacher. But during college she had become interested in female jazz singers, and now she began giggins with jazz artists Ellis Marsalis, Henry Butler, Alvin Batiste and James Black.
Then in 1985, a friend who later became her vocal coach, jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks, convinced LaVerne to move to New York and focus exclusively on music. So she found a teaching job there, made the move, quickly connected with a community of local musicians, formed a band and became immersed in the New York jazz scene, while continuing to teach by day for a while. Dates at top clubs and jazz festivals, plus a recording contract with Chesky soon followed. Then in 1999 the then new indie label MAXJAZZ signed LaVerne to launch its Vocal Series.
She was formerly married to Jerry Weldon (saxophonist with Harry Connick Jr.'s big band).
Blues In The City (1999); A Foolish Thing To Do (2001)
Named "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" in the 2001 Down Beat critics' poll
Blues In The City was #1 on Gavin Jazz Chart, and AFIM Indie Award nominee for Best Jazz Vocal.