Ruthie Foster

Ruthie Foster

    Ruthie Foster has been the pride of Texas for many years, but is has only been in the past few that the rest of the U.S. has begun to discover this talented guitarist/singer/songwriter.  A vocalist with the ability to wail like Mahalia Jackson or lightly touch a note like Shawn Colvin, Foster has created her own unique, attractive blend of folk, blues and gospel that simply deserves to be heard (many thanks to Jerry Lawson, formerly of the Persuasions, and his wife Julie for introducing me to Ruthie's music).

    Foster was raised in Gause, Texas, in a house where Gospel favorites Sam Cooke and Jackson were played next to jazz and blues greats like Sarah Vaughn and Lightnin' Hopkins.  After graduating from college in Waco, Foster played with the U.S. Navy Band for four years and then moved to New York, where she worked the club circuit until she returned to Texas upon her mother's death in 1993.

    Over the course of the next decade, she developed her amalgamated style and became a popular regional star.  She recorded two records in the late 90s, Full Circle and Crossover, which solidified her local fan base but didn't expand it nationally.

    Then in 2002 Foster released Runaway Soul, a breathtaking album that won national critical acclaim and was, by any account, one of the truly great albums of that year.  From the bluesy sound of the title cut and "Walk On" to the straight-ahead folk of "Home" and the midtempo "Hole In My Pocket" to the Latin-influenced "Ocean of Tears," it was a gem from start to finish and brought much deserved critical and commercial success.  For lovers of acoustic soul and blues, it is essential listening.

    In 2004, Foster released Stages, a live album that largely covered of songs from her previous three albums.  While not as breathtaking as Runaway Soul, it was a nice addition to her discography and a welcome introduction for those new to her music.

    With doors now opening for adult-oriented artists from Lizz Wright to Norah Jones to Raul Midon, here's hoping that over the next few years this accomplished and extremely talented artist will get the exposure she deserves.

    by Chris Rizik

    Available Music