“The truth, according to this remarkable album, is that Ruthie Foster is one of America’s finest soul-blues artists… a full-on blast of soul and blues… The combination of a talented band, powerful songs, and Foster’s roaring gospel-inspired vocals leaves Truth with no weak spots among its dozen tracks. If this one doesn’t elevate Foster to the next level of popularity, it’s impossible to imagine what will.”
Last Sunday Afternoon
When you love music as much as I do, working on a weekly blog certainly has its limitations. There’s so much amazing music (past and present) that I enjoy listening to, I only wish I had time to generate more posts. Last spring one of those releases I heard but never got the opportunity to write about was Ruthie Foster’s album The Truth According to Ruthie Foster. Her energetic spirit and vocal prowess is absolutely wonderful. So when I heard the news of Foster’s Grammy nomination alongside performers such as Susan Tedeschi, Mavis Staples, Robert Cray and Derek Trucks for Best Contemporary Blues Album at this year’s upcoming awards, my interest in this extremely talented artist was rejuvenated.
Since it was unusually warm this past weekend, the atmosphere and good timing gave me an idea to do something that was long overdue…
I walked upstairs and went into the living room. My golden retriever Lucille was curled up basking in a spot on the carpet where the early afternoon sun shined brightly. Noticing I was staring, she nonchalantly glanced up at me with a tranquil gaze as if to say, ”Please tell me today is the day?”
With such a hectic schedule as of late, Lucille hasn’t been getting the exercise she’s used to, and I was determined to make it up to her. With an animated smile, she briskly headed for the front door as I displayed the leash that I was hiding behind my back… With my MP3 player in hand, Foster’s upbeat funky tune “Stone Love,” started to play as Lucille and I began our invigorating walk down the sun drenched avenue.
is originally from Gause, Texas. Raised in a household with gospel roots, she was also exposed to a lot of jazz and blues. Foster always knew music was in her blood, even before her first appearance as a 14 year old soloist in her uncle’s choir. Moving to Waco Texas to attend McClennan Community College, she mixed music classes and audio engineering with visits to clubs at night. In her early teens Foster led a blues band in biker bars and other various settings from Dallas to San Antonio. In the late eighties Foster join the Navy and worked with an ensemble called Pride, where she traveled around at recruitment drives playing funk hits.
Foster moved to New York in 1990 and immersed herself in the folk scene and eventually landed a deal with Atlantic Records. But the label didn’t share her vision of what kind of artist she should be. Family obligations would bring her back to Texas, where she re-connected with her roots and put together a string of new material that would get her work both in a band setting and as a solo artist.
“It didn’t matter to me what genre it was,” she remembers. “I just took it all in as great music – music that moved me.”
In 1997 Foster released the album Full Circle before teaming up with Blue Corn Music, and then released Crossover in 1999, Runaway Soul in 2002, Stages (featuring a series of live tracks) in 2004, Heal Yourself in 2006 and The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster in 2008.
The Truth According to Ruthie Foster
Recorded in Memphis at Ardent Studios with the assistance from players such as guitarist Robben Ford, (The Yellowjackets, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell) well known Memphis keyboardist Jim Dickinson (the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin), organist Charles Hodges (Al Green, Ann Peebles) and the Memphis Horns. This latest release is Ruthie Foster’s most catchy and successful work to date. And with a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, the truth has never looked brighter.
Later Sunday Night
Most of the tunes featured on this album are influenced by early soul, gospel, funk and R&B. And as I look back with Lucille now contently snoring next to me, it seemed like the stress of everyday life were washed away at least for that moment during our afternoon jaunt… Ruthie Foster’s perspective on music is something that many of my readers have heard me say time and time again. In Ruthie’s words, “Music is a healer. It’s energy. And it goes into everything…”
If you are unfamiliar with Ruthie Foster then I can’t recommend this awesome album enough. It may just end up making your day. It sure did for me and my faithful hound… For more information and concert dates you can go to Ruthie Foster’s website by clicking here.
What do you think? Is Ruthie going to bring home the award on January 31st? Your comments are welcome.
The Blues Blogger
“Music is a healer” –oh yes– her gift is healing— thank you for this– Its wonderful–
She is amazing. Seeing her live must be one of the most fun things around to do. I find myself just closing my eyes and nodding my head in time to the music. Big smile.
Thanks for pulling her out of your back pocket.
Stunning artist…great voice and quality music..a new discovery for me…i love her music…nice intro…many thanks…
Ruthie has my vote!
Ruthie Foster is such a powerful singer with an incredible range. Not only that….. she is about the nicest person that you will ever meet.
I only recently became aware of Ruthie when she was the cover story in the Oct/Nov 2009 issue of Blues Revue Magazine. In order to address your questions (i.e., What do you think? Is Ruthie going to bring home the award on January 31st?), I reacquired myself by listening to the five nominated contemporary blues albums today.
What do I think? I imagine that like many people I have a love/hate relationship with any type of “best list”. That is, often some of my favorites (e.g., Davy Knowles, Coming Up for Air; Joanne Shaw Taylor; White Sugar; Seasick Steve; Man From Another Time; Joe Bonamassa; The Ballad of John Henry; and Tinsley Ellis; Speak No Evil) are not included or the list includes someone that is either out of place or should not even be included.
Nevertheless, I digress and this year’s Grammy nominees are certainly noteworthy. One never knows the current “leanings” of the The Recording Academy’s members but I believe there is always “politics” involved. Therefore, I do not believe Ruthie is well known enough to win over the other more established nominees even though Truth has helped to bring her to the forefront of the blues community. However, if she keeps making great music with the heart and soul abundantly poured into Truth, she will be back as a Grammy nominee. She has the talent to pick up (or be passed) the torch from other blues women before her.
Robert has received 13 Grammy nominations and is a 5-time Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter. Is he due again? Doubtful. This Time is an enjoyable, easy-going listen but it does not break any new ground.
I will bet there are (will be) some interesting family dynamics with husband and wife Derek and Susan. Susan is better known in blues circles and Derek is better known as the long-time guitarist for the Allman Brothers Band. However, Derek collaborated on Susan’s Back to the River and Susan makes a guest appearance on Derek’s Already Free. So, either way I guess they both win if either wins. [Sidebar: I prefer artist that also sing. Don’t get me wrong, Mike Mattison is simply a wonderful vocalist for Derek, but I would rather he fronted his own band a la Delbert McClinton. I have seen Susan and Derek join forces twice as the Soul Stew Revival and really enjoyed the shows. Last summer, I saw just Derek and unfortunately, he does not have much of a stage presence for a guitarist of his caliber. I think they should make Soul Stew Revival permanent until the marriage breaks up. ]
At 70, it may be time to finally recognize Mavis with a Grammy, not just for Live: Hope at the Hideout but for an incredible solo career as an R&B and gospel singer as well as her family’s band, The Staple Singers. As Mavis says on this live recording at the Hideout, “We’ve come together tonight to bring you some joy, some happiness, inspiration, and some positive vibrations.” Goodness, gracious does she ever deliver on all counts. Crank up the volume, get your groove one, and take a trip with Mavis – bet you cannot sit still during this rousing performance. This recording certainly brings back memories of when I saw her at the 15th Annual (May 2008) Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival in Thomson, Georgia.
Mavis gets my vote but there are no losers here – after all, I have the albums.
Happy Trails, Duane
Update regarding my previous post. Mike Mattison (Derek Trucks Band lead singer) has rejoined with Paul Olsen as Scrapomatic and they are currently touring the East Coast in small venues. Assume Mike will also continue to perform with the Derek Truck Band.
Also regarding where I said I saw Derek last summer. Just discovered the bands at the 2009 Hot August Blues Festival (hotaugustblues.com) in Cockeysville, MD allowed soundboard taping. Internet Archive (archive.org) has the free downloadable files of “Derek Trucks Band Live at Oregon Ridge Park on 2009-08-15 (August 15, 2009). [http://www.archive.org/details/dtb2009-08-15] Joe Bonamasa joins in on guitar on the Get Out Of My Life Woman track.
Interestingly, all the Thank You and band introduction banter is NOT Derek – I did say, Derek “… does not have much of a stage presence….” Overall, IMHO, I enjoyed Joe Bonamassa’s set the most – it was obvious that Joe has been working on his vocals and is a much better performer/entertainer.
Happy Trails, Duane
That. Was. Terrific.
I just got her album and am loving it!! Its so great to see quality blues music still being made….:)
Even though Ruthie did not win the grammy award, she is still a winner in our book. What an anointed voice and an awesome cousin.
Very Very Great Artist
The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need! Keep ‘em coming… you all do such a great job at such Concepts… can’t tell you how much I, for one appreciate all you do!