Ruthie Foster, the comparatively young (she’s 48) Blues singer from Texas, has taken a while to find her audience. Her first album came out back in 1997, but her last two, 2009’s The Truth According to Ruthie Foster and 2012’s Let It Burn, both netted her Grammy nominations for Best Blues Album and elevated her into the forefront of the genre’s top contemporary performers.
Foster’s brand new album, Promise of a Brand New Day, moves her forward — it’s as much accomplished R&B, mixed with strains of Rock, Pop and Folk, as it is straightforward Blues.
The singer/bassist Meshell Ndegeocello produced Promise of a Brand New Day and her and Foster’s intentions are announced in the very first song, the Foster-penned “Singing the Blues,” on which Foster intones “A little bit of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland never gets old.” Bland, the great and dramatic singer whose voice could smoothly move from a whisper to a scream, proves a great inspiration for Foster. So, too, does Bonnie Raitt — Foster’s voice has the same level of warmth and generosity on some of the new songs.
Ndegeocello assembled a combo of funky, intuitive players to back up Foster on the record, so the material is a showcase for her voice. Both her own songs and covers of material like the Staple Singers’ “The Ghetto” and Eugene McDaniels’ “Outlaw” shine.
Foster has been around for quite a while, but this show is a chance to see her still rising.
RUTHIE FOSTER plays at 20th Century Theater Thursday, Oct. 16. Find tickets/more info here .