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Ruthie Foster

Ruthie Foster’s musical journey is as eclectic and vibrant as her soulful voice. Born into a family steeped in gospel tradition, Ruthie’s earliest influences were the voices of her mother, grandmother, and the gospel singers she grew up listening to — artists like the Gospel Keynotes and the Blind Boys of Alabama. However, her path to becoming a solo artist wasn’t a straightforward one. Despite a deep love for music, Ruthie initially shied away from the spotlight, preferring to play guitar, piano, and write songs for others.

Growing up in the rich musical tapestry of Gause, Texas, Ruthie found herself drawn to the diverse sounds and arrangements of local gospel choirs and musicians. Despite her reluctance to take center stage, Ruthie’s talent was undeniable, and her mother encouraged her to step up and sing out. She stood out as a young black girl with a guitar in a choir scene dominated by pianos, but with her grandmother’s vocal coaching and encouragement from her mother and the church community, she recognized her own power — as a songwriter, a musician, and as a captivating singer.

After studying music at a community college in Waco, Ruthie decided to take a break from music and enlist in the Navy. The stage drew her once more, and she was selected to sing for the Navy band Pride, where she honed her skills as a vocalist and performer. A development deal with Atlantic Records led her to New York City, where she immersed herself in the songwriting community and learned the craft of writing songs that spoke to the soul.

However, Ruthie’s journey took a turn when her mother fell ill, prompting her to step back from music and return to Texas once again. It was a period of introspection, caregiving, and deep bonding with her mother, and upon her return to writing and performing, it was to shape her voice as a singer-songwriter and storyteller. Drawing on her experiences and her musical roots, she began to craft blues, folk, and gospel-tinged songs that spoke to the universal themes of love, loss, and resilience.

Turning down a major record deal in pursuit of authenticity, she has stayed true to herself and her vision as an artist, signing with independent label Blue Corn Music to release Runaway Soul in 2002, followed by The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster in 2007, The Truth According to Ruthie Foster in 2009, Let It Burn in 2012, Promise of a Brand New Day in 2014, Joy Comes Back in 2017, and Healing Time in 2022. She has also released three live albums, Stages in 2004, Live At Antone’s in 2011, and 2020’s Live at the Paramount.

Now, with five Grammy nominations to her name and a new album, Mileage, set to be released on Sun Records, Ruthie Foster stands as a testament to the power of authenticity and resilience in music. Her soulful melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and unwavering commitment to her craft inspire audiences and fellow musicians alike as she continues to carve out a path that is uniquely her own.