Californian songstress Beth Hart has been to hell and back en route to this weekend’s West Coast Blues ’N’ Roots festival.
The Grammy-nominated blues-soul singer has battled bipolar disorder and drug addiction, among numerous other setbacks which she opens up about on her seventh album, Better than Home. She also addresses being abandoned by her father at the age of five on Tell Her You Belong to Me.
“It was painful to write,” the singer says from Los Angeles. “My dad left us for another woman when I was young and it wasn’t like we got to visit him with the new woman, she wouldn’t allow us in his life.
“That was the greatest heartbreak of my life — other than going through drug addiction. That sucked.”
Hart, 43, started dabbling with drugs at the age of 12 and became a periodic user through her 20s, clean for months at a time only to slip into two or three-day binges.
“That’s what I did for years,” she says. “I was able to focus and work to get a record deal and get my career going.”
But her 1999 breakthrough, LA Song, both propelled her career and sent her off the rails. “I had a predisposition to bipolar disorder but wasn’t medicated,” she says.
“When the stress hit with LA Song I couldn’t handle it so I dived into daily drinking. The doctor got me off alcohol by giving me pills but I got more addicted to the pills than anything. My hair was falling out, I was underweight and I went through three rehabs and six psych wards.”
Hart credits husband and tour manager Scott Guetzkow for saving her. “I have an amazing man in my life,” she says. “He was just my drum tech at the time. He came to all those hospitals and rehabs. He loved me and ended up marrying me — he asked me to marry him in rehab for God’s sake.”
[|Better than Home ] is out on April 10. [|Beth Hart ] plays [|West Coast Blues ’N’ Roots ] at Fremantle Park on Sunday. Tickets from Moshtix.