Although Ruthie Foster is far from a household name, there’s no denying her astonishing talent and range. A native Texan, Foster’s family tree was ripe with Gospel singers, but she quickly absorbed the Lone Star State’s other musical identities, like Folk, Blues, Country and Rock, to which she added her own soulful spin.
After a stint in the Navy, Foster headed to New York City for an education in major label politics and disappointment. After a couple of late ’90s releases, Foster returned to Texas and took a sabbatical from music to tend to her ailing mother. When she resumed her career, she hooked up with Blue Corn Music and has turned out a succession of powerful albums, accumulating an impressive list of accolades, including numerous Austin Music Awards (Best Folk Artist 2004-05, Best Female Vocalist 2007-08), a Grammy nomination (Best Contemporary Blues Album for 2009’s The Truth According to Ruthie Foster) and several nominations and wins at the Blues Music Awards.
For her new album, Let It Burn, Foster recorded in New Orleans with a murderer’s row of musical talent, including the Funky Meters’ rhythm section and renowned Nawlins guitarist Dave Easley, as well as Soul icon William Bell and the legendary Blind Boys of Alabama, with whom Foster toured in 2009.
The result is an album that has cemented Foster’s reputation as a fantastic Gospel/Blues/Folk alchemist, upping the ante with a jazzy swing. She’s been measured with Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald, while the great Mavis Staples is a fan. If you don’t know Ruthie Foster, those endorsements alone should be enough to inspire you to check her out; fan club membership won’t be far behind.
RUTHIE FOSTER performs Friday, Nov. 17 at the Martin Marietta Theater in Harrison High School.