By Kristi Kates
T he Truth According to Ruthie Foster is the title of
singer-songwriter Ruthie Fosters new album, songs of which Foster
herself will be bringing to TCs InsideOut Gallery on Sunday, January
Fosters life to date has been long, challenging, and full of rich
anecdotes, and she infuses her music with many of those experiences
and influences, from Central Texas to stages and performances across
the U.S. and beyond.
The young Ruthie Foster was surrounded by a wide variety of music,
from the hymns her mother taught her to a book of Beatles songs passed
along by her guitar teacher; to classic country and pop heard through
the familys radios, to the 45 rpm records her uncle, a trucker, would
drop off during his visits.
It didnt matter to me what genre it was, Foster explains in her
official bio, I just took it all in as great music.
She debuted at the age of 14 as a soloist in her uncles choir, and in
college crafted her own schedule of classes by day and performance
clubs at night. Soon, she was fronting a blues band that traveled
across Texas - but before too long, Foster started to wonder what else
was out there.
So I joined the Navy, she says.
NAVY TO NEW YORK
The pull of music didnt leave her for long, though. At her helicopter
squadrons holiday party, she sat in with the band - and was quickly
signed up by Pride, a Navy band that played funk and Top 40 tunes at
Navy recruitment drives. With Foster being the only woman in the
group, she learned quickly, she says, to hold her own on the road,
which would be another important point of growth for this
From Texas, it was on to New York, where she collaborated with the
citys songwriters, played at folk venues, and snagged a contract with
Atlantic Records. Another (albeit temporary) roadblock arrived when
Atlantic decreed that she wasnt the power-ballad singer theyd
envisioned her to be, so Foster retreated back to Texas to deal with
that situation as well as some family issues.
Austin, Texas, is now Fosters base - and the music has called her
back, as well. Shes now recorded five albums, continually writes
songs, and has performed a plethora of live shows in which shes been
compared to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin.
On her latest aforementioned album, she worked in Nashville with roots
music producer Chris Goldsmith to oversee her collaborations with a
wide range of musicians, from guitar icon Robben Ford (Bob Dylan/Joni
Mitchell) to Taj Mahal bassist Larry Fulcher, Ben Harper/Tracy Chapman
drummer Rock Deadrick, and one of Aretha Franklins own keyboardists,
Jim Dickinson, whos also worked with the likes of Mudhoney and
Screamin Jay Hawkins.
The result of those sessions, The Truth According to Ruthie Foster,
offers songs both big and quiet; the 70s energy of Stone Love, the
reggae rhythms of I Really Love You, the funktastic, horn-bedecked
Dues Paid in Full, and the downbeat blues of Tears of Pain being
just a few.
Its both a fitting follow-up to Fosters last release, the
critically-acclaimed The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, and a standout
showcase for what this soulful, skilled performers future will look -
and sound - like.
Ruthie Foster will be performing at InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City
on January 23 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the
door, $35 reserved, $45 VIP, $20 student; tix available at Cuppa Joe,
Sound It Out Records, Oryana, Borders, InsideOut Gallery, and online
at treatickets.com. For more information on Foster, visit
www.ruthiefoster.com and www.bluecornmusic.com.