Music at The Betsy: Meet Our Playlist Curator and Discover Our Most Popular Playlists
Music is a pillar of The Betsy’s culture, from our curated art exhibits to the artists we book seven nights a week for live performances in our arrival lobby. With blissful beach days and a phenomenal food scene all within arm’s reach, The Betsy is your ticket to adventure, relaxation, and discovery — memorable moments that need the perfect soundtrack.
At The Betsy, co-owner Lesley Goldwasser serves as our playlist curator—and anyone who loves music knows a playlist curator also curates a vibe. Growing up surrounded by eclectic music, and with years spent playing classical piano, flute, and the harp, Lesley has the insight to create playlists that move people—both emotionally and on the dance floor.
What kind of music does Lesley listen to, you ask? Rock, jazz, soul, the blues, R&B, country, bluegrass, rap—the list goes on. “The only thing I don’t like is electronic and house music, but even then, there are many artists I like, such as David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Avicii, DJ Snake… Actually, as I begin to think about it, there are many!” Lesley says about her preferred genres. When asked why curating playlists for The Betsy is so important to her, Lesley says that “music should invite the listener to discover [new things] and be transported.”
Lesley curates playlists with a feeling in mind, creating opportunities for listeners to go on a journey. When listening to Lesley’s playlists, you’ll likely hear something familiar, warm, and comfortable, then be swept to somewhere you’ve never been.
Have the playlists at The Betsy always been specifically and carefully curated? Not so much, says Lesley. “When The Betsy first opened in 2009, we played that cool, predictable music. I hated it! I asked Jonathan [co-owner of The Betsy and Lesley’s husband] if he would give me a shot at curating a sample playlist, and we tried it out without telling anyone who was responsible for it. We got positive feedback and that was it, I was hooked.”
Lesley has over a dozen playlists on The Betsy’s Spotify account, and we’ve asked her to pick four of her favorite mixes to walk us through in greater detail.
The Betsy Morning Playlist
“A lazy, jazzy playlist that eases you gently into the morning, transporting you to an elegant, simpler era. Feel comfy and familiar with well-known jazz duets from Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. Indulge in jazz legends like Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt, Etta James, and Billie Holiday, then dive into under-appreciated treasures with honeyed voices such as Blossom Dearie, Eydie Gorme, Etta Jones, Kay Starr Margaret Whiting, and Joni James. This playlist is a perfect mix of vintage, whimsical Doo Wop harmonies and rare recordings of crooners of the 1920s and 1930s. With surprises like Mississippi blues artists Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson, and Son House, weaved with more contemporary artists like Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, The Civil Wars, and Joni Mitchell, this playlist takes you around the world, from France to Italy, to Cape Verdean and Cuba.”
The Betsy Classical Playlist
“A soothing, calming playlist that mixes quintessential classical pieces (like Lang Lang's exquisite version of Schumann's Kinderszenen and Yo-Yo Ma's rendition of Bach's Cello Suite in G), with lesser-known melodies such as Bach's violin Partita in D, Schubert's Piano Trio in E flat, and Jascha Heifetz's arrangement of Estrellita. In creating this playlist, I tried to navigate the hugely complicated tomb of classical music, finding only pieces that please and delight even the hardened classical music naysayers. There are no big, loud crescendos with crashing drums and brass that disturb the mood on this playlist—only sweet melodies and opera arias that gently soar. This playlist is designed to make you wonder why you don't listen to more classical, inspiring you to dive into the genre.”
The Betsy Afternoon Playlist
“This one’s built for a relaxing afternoon—laid back enough to create easy, breezy vibes, but not so chill you’ll fall asleep (but it’s okay if you do, the pool is a great place to take a nap). The Afternoon Playlist takes you on a stroll down memory lane, where you’ll hum along to familiar artists like the Beatles, the Eagles, Neil Young, and Fleetwood Mac. Then, follow the path to more modern artists like Childish Gambino and Amos Lee, who’ll invite you to discover recording combinations and covers you never knew existed. From rock legends like The Rolling Stones to pop legends like ABBA and Elton John, this playlist combines jazz, reggae, folk, and country, too. Let soulful tunes from Sam Cooke, Harry Belafonte, Jobim, and others pull at your heartstrings, then relish in the little surprises like the Chimurenga music of Oliver Mtukudzi of Zimbabwe without feeling a heavy change in the mood of the playlist. This playlist keeps you guessing, but also keeps you feeling cool.”
The Betsy Evening Playlist
“Soul, R&B, and blues, with a little rock and indie pop thrown in the mix. Old school greats like Aretha Franklin and lesser-known, big-voiced performers such as Big Mama Thornton, Big Maybelle, and Koko Taylor will soothe your soul. Modern-day icons such as Amy Winehouse and the Rolling Stones and home-grown Miami artists like the late Betty Wright and Miami-based DJ Khaled fire up the mood of this mix. This playlist features some of the greatest guitar players of all time—Chuck Berry, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Albert King, and Guitar Slim to contemporary artists like Eric Clapton and Prince. While you would not expect to hear artists like Billie Eilish, D'Angelo, Drake, Kanye, and DJ Snake alongside some of these songs, the mood works. I like to mix it up and insert tracks that wouldn’t typically jive together, but these unexpected songs are like tasting a well-known food dish and all of a sudden finding an unpredictable flavor that makes you pause and enjoy the dish even more.”
Follow The Betsy on Spotify for more carefully curated playlists.