Truth be told, I’d never heard of Ruthie Foster until I saw her on the Door Community Auditorium’s line up for 2011 main stage shows. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with her warm and wide-ranging voice.
Foster’s charisma and enthusiasm for music of all types makes her an interesting artist to follow. She’s exciting in her ability to jump from one musical genre to another, and to blend them together. It makes her unpredictable as to her next move, each album, and each track uniquely different from the other.
Grammy nominated in 2009 for Best Contemporary Blues Album and awarded the Traditional Blues Female Artist of the year in 2010, she seems capable of capturing the essence of many different types of music. In her most recent album, The Truth According to Ruthie Foster, she incorporates soul, classic R&B, folk, blues and bubbling reggae.
The song, “I Really Love You,” for example, shows off Foster’s grainy, soulful voice and bluesy gift for taking a song about unrequited love and making it an easy statement of truth, “If you only knew, how much I love you,” and anything but plaintive.
The old gospel song, “Up Above My Head,” from her album, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, released in 2007 (written by Sister Rosetta Tharpe), sounds absolutely, and appropriately, phenomenal:
Up above my head
I hear music in the air
I really do believe, I really do believe there’s a Heaven somewhere
Her live performances are full of a range of her own songs and skillful covers of her favorite artist and biggest inspirations. She’s been compared to legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin for her mesmerizing, soul-drenched voice and shining stage presence.
All her music has at least a hint of gospel, but her influences in include the Beatles, Tina Turner and Muddy Waters. Additionally, she grew up listening to “Old Soul,” music; an East Texas and Louisiana mesh of sound that can be heard in Z.Z. Hill’s music.
She’s rocking the music world, and all genres are feeling her presence and force. She’s received rave reviews from the Austin Chronicle and O, Oprah Magazine, as well as Blues Revue. After touring all over the world, Ruthie Foster seems poised and ready to bring her rhythm and blues excellence to the DCA this Friday. I can’t wait to be there and feel the power and full blast of soul her performance is sure to include.