More than 40 years after she talked Lionel Hampton into letting her sit in with his band and then blew him away with her rendition of "The Man I Love," jazz singer Betty Carter retains much of her original brass. Hampton was so impressed that he invited her to join his band-Carter's first professional job-and she stayed on from 1948 to 1951. But, during those years, her outspoken ways caused her to be booted from the band and rehired on numerous occasions. Mainly, she thought be-bop, not Hampton's swing, was the hippest thing going in jazz, and she let her boss know it in no uncertain terms.
Besides recording the landmark album with [Ray Charles] during the early 1960s, Carter toured with saxophonist Sonny Rollins and formed her own label, Bet-Car. As the British rock invasion and other pop music pushed jazz from the limelight, having a label of her own was the only way Carter could get her music out.
Through the 1970s and 1980s, Carter released four albums on Bet-Car and kept her career in motion with a steady diet of small club and college campus dates. As other jazz singers turned to pop and lighter forms of music in search of broader audiences, Carter continued to earn the nickname Hampton gave her: Betty Bebop.