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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2016

THREE-TIME GRAMMY NOMINEE
RUTHIE FOSTER TRANSFORMS SORROW
INTO CAREER-DEFINING SOUL/BLUES/GOSPEL/ROCK OPUS
JOY COMES BACK, RELEASING MARCH 24 ON BLUE CORN MUSIC
Derek Trucks, Willie Weeks, Joe Vitale, Warren Hood
among guests on songs by Chris Stapleton, Mississippi John Hurt,
Stevie Wonder and even Black Sabbath

AUSTIN, Texas — In the tightknit musical community of Austin, Texas, it’s tough to get away with posturing. You either bring it, or you don’t.

If you do, word gets around. Praises are sung. And one day, you find yourself duetting with Bonnie Raitt, or standing onstage with the Allman Brothers at New York’s Beacon Theater and trading verses with Susan Tedeschi. You might even wind up getting nominated for a Best Blues Album Grammy — three times in a row. In addition to your six Female Artist of the Year/Koko Taylor Blues Music Awards.

There’s only one Austinite with that résumé: Ruthie Foster. And when she releases Joy Comes Back, her eighth Blue Corn Music album, on March 24, 2017, the Recording Academy might want to put its engraver on notice. Because every note on it confirms this truth: It’s Ruthie’s time.

When she recorded these songs, Foster wasn’t merely singing about love and loss; she was splitting a household and custody of her 5-year-old daughter. Music was her therapy.

In the warm confines of Austin producer and former neighbor Daniel Barrett’s studio, she found a comfort level she’d never before experienced while recording. It gave her the strength to pour the heartache of her family’s fracture and the cautious hope of new love into 10 incredible tracks, nine of which are by a diverse array of writers ranging from Mississippi John Hurt, Sean Staples and Grace Pettis (daughter of renowned folk singer Pierce Pettis), to Chris Stapleton and Black Sabbath. Yes, Black Sabbath: Foster reimagines “War Pigs” as a jam session with Son House. She also covers the Four Tops’ “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever,” written by Ivy Jo Hunter and Stevie Wonder.

And she makes each one hers, aided by some special guests. Tedeschi’s husband, Derek Trucks, drops slide guitar into the title tune; bassist Willie Weeks (Bowie, Clapton, George Harrison) plays on the Foster-penned “Open Sky”; and drumming legend Joe Vitale (Crosby, Stills & Nash; the Eagles) appears on several tracks. Grace Pettis adds guitar to “Working Woman” and vocals on “Good Sailor,” Pettis’ co-write with Haley Cole. Local hero Warren Hood (“Champ Hood’s boy,” as Foster calls him) lays fiddle and mandolin on Hurt’s bluegrass-tinted “Richland Woman Blues.” Barrett plays guitars, drums and percussion; other contributors include Brian Standefer, Eric Holden, Frank LoCrasto, Nicholas Ryland and Red Young, as well as the core members of Ruthie’s touring band, Samantha Banks and Larry Fulcher.

At one point, Barrett described the album to Hood as “some blues, some folk, some soul, some rock, some gospel.” Hood replied, “Sounds like Ruthie Foster music.”

Exactly. And “Ruthie Foster music” is an adventurous trip, harboring in places where stylistic limitations don’t exist and anything is worth trying. Which explains how she can turn even a song she was initially unsure about, “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever,” into a gospel-pop tour-de-force that could make Aretha Franklin jealous. “Once in a while I get a song I just resist, but I go ahead and start feeling what it feels like to sing it,” Foster explains. “That was one of those songs; it just felt good to sing.”

As for motivating herself in the studio if sparks don’t flash immediately, she says that’s been part of the job. “I go in, I’m prepared, I sing, and then I go home.” What she didn’t do in the past was hang out in the studio. Foster and Barrett had already spent many caffeine-fueled hours discussing music and life before recording; that continued as they worked — with occasional breaks to catch a loose neighborhood dog or entertain an ailing child. “Those small, real-life interruptions made it really nice for me,” she says. “They made it less like a job, which opened me up creatively.”

They weren’t even planning an album at first; they’d just decided to work up some songs, starting with “Forgiven,” by the Weepies’ Deb Talan. A gorgeous, majestic and moving ballad, it’s the perfectly placed final track. “This song said so much about what I was going through,” Foster says softly. “To have it be the catalyst for this album was a gift.” She cried during the playback — for the first time in her career.

That emotional nakedness is exactly what makes Joy Comes Back so extraordinary. On songs such as Pettis’ powerful “Good Sailor,” Foster, a Navy vet, plunged right into lines like I've been tossed around in the deepest blue/I almost drowned a time or two/But easy living never did me no favors/Smooth seas never made a good sailor.”

“It’s written so well, I was upset that I hadn’t written it myself,” Foster says, laughing. When Pettis heard the track, she told Foster, “It’s your song now.” Foster also claimed Pettis’ “Working Woman,” a rousing soul anthem of empowerment — and righteous anger.

She takes listeners to church on the gospel-soul title song, augmenting Staples’ lyrics with some of her own. When she told Barrett that in her childhood church, percussion was provided by the sisters’ tapping heels, he borrowed a neighbor’s high-heeled shoes and miked his well-aged oak floor. They banged away like kids.

“War Pigs” reminded Foster of nights spent servicing Naval helicopters with guys who liked their heavy metal cranked to 11. But her version, with spectral harmonica by Simon Wallace, Barrett’s Porterdavis bandmate, is more elemental.

“I wanted something unexpected that would be cool to do at festivals,” Foster says. “To get people out of their seats or tents to find out what the heck is that? Who is this little ol’ short black woman doing Black Sabbath on a resonator?”

On past albums, Foster says, “It was about being a professional singer, a hallelujah-chorus girl. But I’m a real person, and relaying that through this music and the stories behind it is really important to me. I haven’t written much because it’s been rough for me to put pen to paper, but Dan, having spent at least a year and a half being a listener and witness to my life, found these songs that have a lot to do with where I was and where I am — and who I am.”

For 2014’s Promise of a Brand New Day, producer Meshell Ndegeocello encouraged her to write originals. But a true artist can make any song his or her own, no matter who wrote it. And truly extraordinary artists do it so well that their version becomes definitive.

“Putting myself into another person’s words was huge for me,” Foster says. “I connect more to my voice these days than I do to anything. Even speaking — that was something my grandmother worked with me on, because I would stutter. It was a big deal for me to connect to words as a young kid. So I’m coming full circle.”

Adds Barrett, “It was one of the privileges of my artistic life, getting to watch an artist of her magnitude find her voice anew. You could drop her anywhere on earth and people would feel the truth in her voice.”
That truth? It sounds like Ruthie Foster music.

# # #

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2014

RUTHIE FOSTER FOLLOWS CONSECUTIVE GRAMMY-NOMINATED ALBUMS WITH MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO-PRODUCED
PROMISE OF A BRAND NEW DAY

August 19 release on Blue Corn Music features
Foster’s singular blend of blues, soul, folk and gospel;
Ndegeocello, Doyle Bramhall II and Toshi Reagon guest

AUSTIN, Texas — From houses of worship to houses of blues, Ruthie Foster has always been a rafter-rattler. And with a soul-filled voice honed in Texas churches, she can move audiences to tears or ecstasy — sometimes in a single song. Her last two albums, 2009’s The Truth According to Ruthie Foster and 2012’s Let It Burn, moved the Recording Academy to deliver Best Blues Album Grammy nominations; her latest, Promise of a Brand New Day, releasing August 19 on Blue Corn Music, could make her a contender once more.

For this effort, Foster put Meshell Ndegeocello in charge as her producer and then got out of the way, letting the lauded singer and bassist call the shots regarding players, takes, and mixing. “I wanted this album to highlight Ruthie’s voice and also communicate her vibe, give a fuller picture of her artistry and ability,” explains Ndegeocello. “She really trusted me with the music and I think we've made something that complements and holds its own alongside the power of her voice.”

Ndegeocello played bass and enlisted her regular guitarist Chris Bruce (Sheryl Crow) and keyboardist Jebin Bruni (Aimee Mann), plus drummer Ivan Edwards and backing vocalist Nayanna Holley. Foster did request two special guests: guitarist Doyle Bramhall II and singer Toshi Reagon.

“Meshell asked me, ‘Who’s at the top of your list?’” Foster recalls. Bramhall’s been there for a while, but her fellow Austinite can be hard to nail down because of his day job with Eric Clapton. Ndegeocello pulled it off. As for Reagon, daughter of Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and godchild of Pete Seeger, Foster has known her for years. “It was so sweet and such a relief to finally put our names together on a project,” Foster says.

Promise of a Brand New Day includes seven songs written or co-written by Foster, most of them “songs with messages - because that’s important to what I do,” Foster explains. “Maybe that’s from growing up with people like Mavis [Staples] and a lot of strong women who have come before me, who are great singers but also have a message. They give you something; they say something.”

Foster descends from a line of strong women; while sitting in the courtyard of an Austin coffee shop, she notices grapevines climbing a fence and recalls picking Mustang grapes for her grandmother in tiny Gause, Texas, a church-filled town about 90 minutes northeast of Austin. Her family was full of gospel singers; to this day, when she gets nervous onstage (yes, she still does), she’ll reference her early influences, from “the sisters in the amen corner” to the music she fell in love with.

The Staple Singers’ “The Ghetto” is a centerpiece track, full of gentle electric guitar and a slow-build fire that gains intensity with each verse. “We sent an email to Mavis to check the words,” Foster says, “and she sent an email back that said, ‘Tell Miss Ruthie she picked a good one!’”

Classic influences can be felt elsewhere, including “Second Coming,” a civil-rights protest song in the folk-gospel tradition, with handclaps and a strummed acoustic guitar.
“When you see me talk about my country life and picking Mustang grapes, and referencing people like Mississippi John Hurt and Jessie Mae Hemphill, that’s a way of grounding myself,” she says. “People connect to that, and that’s when the energy starts building, and then I can get to the big stuff and have some fun and wave my dreadlocks around.”

She draws on those roots for “New,” a gorgeous song written by and featuring Reagon. But unlike Foster’s last release, Promise of a Brand New Day is not covers-oriented, nor, lest one get the wrong impression, is it a gospel album.

“If anything, I stayed with that old-school soul feel,” Foster says. “Meshell wanted to make it a point for me to write more songs for this one, and I did too. I wasn’t sure I had that in me, but I did some diggin’.”

Of course, she had it in her. From the opener, “Singing the Blues,” in which she observes, “a bit of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland never, never gets old,” to the a cappella “Brand New Day,” originally sung into her phone just before going onstage one night in an effort to fend off tour-induced loneliness, Foster delivers one powerful track after another. She’s even got a co-write with Stax great William Bell, “It Might Not Be Right,” which nods musically to the late soul-stirrer O.V. Wright, and addresses gay marriage. Not so long ago, it might have been about interracial couples.

“William had titles and grooves, and I had verses and ideas,” she says. “He’s great at coming up with these hooks, and it’s just a great title. ‘It might not be right for the world, but it’s all right with this girl.’”

Foster got even more personal on “Complicated Love,” a relationship ballad.

“It’s definitely goin’ deep, a lot deeper for me than I have gone on my previous records,” she says. It’s not necessarily about her, however. “I had a couple of friends around me who were just having a really difficult time. If I can’t use my own life, I go and borrow somebody else’s for about 31Ž2 minutes,” she says with a laugh. Another friend’s relationship inspired “Learning to Fly,” a mid-tempo piano ballad with a pop feel and the elegant lyric, “Everybody knows the seed must die so the flower can grow.”

Foster says that one was among several songs she had that couldn’t seem to find a home before Ndegeocello latched onto them “and really worked some serious magic.”

It’s obvious, however, that Foster’s own magic will shine through regardless of who’s producing. Her Grammy-nominated albums were helmed by Chris Goldsmith, whose credits include Grammy-winning albums with Charlie Musselwhite and the Blind Boys of Alabama, and Grammy-winner John Chelew, producer of the album universally hailed as John Hiatt’s masterpiece, Bring the Family, among others. From 2011 to 2013 she earned three consecutive Blues Music Awards, plus an Austin Music Award for Best Female Vocalist and a Living Blues Critics’ Award for Female Blues Artist of the Year. And those are just some highlights of her awards history.

She’s also toured and recorded with Warren Haynes, traded verses with Susan Tedeschi on “The Weight” during the Allman Brothers’ 2012 Beacon Theater stretch; and sang on an episode of the TV series Revolution. She first delivered a gorgeous “Angel from Montgomery” with Bonnie Raitt at one of Wavy Gravy’s annual SEVA benefits; then repeated it with her on The Road to Austin, a loving all-star tribute to the now-late Stephen Bruton that made its documentary debut in the 2014 South By Southwest Film Festival.

Such accolades and appearances reinforce the fact that Foster’s a blues-world rarity: an original voice who honors her forebearers, yet transcends gentrification. If further proof is needed, the Eugene McDaniels-penned “Outlaw” should do it. The soul-sister celebration is, simply put, groovalicious. Or there’s her other ode to O.V. Wright, “My Kinda Lover.” Or “Let Me Know,” which, Foster confesses, she actually wrote for Marcia Ball, who never got a crack at it. Bramhall did, though; his guitar is all over the “blues-backboned” track, which Foster sings without backing vocals.

“Ruthie's voice is such a singular, powerful instrument, and she has such mastery of it,” Ndegeocello notes. “She can turn it on, belt it out and bring you to your knees, all in an instant.”

Amen, sister.



# # #

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2012

RUTHIE FOSTER’S LET IT BURN DEBUTS ON BILLBOARD
CURRENT ALBUMS, HEATSEEKERS AND BLUES CHARTS

Album buoyed by NPR Weekend Edition piece; U.S. tour in progress, SXSW in March

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Ruthie Foster’s new album, Let It Burn, was released last week to much fanfare in the press, coinciding with an NPR Weekend Edition story , and the start of a U.S. tour on a co-bill with Paul Thorn. The tour will run right up until SXSW where Ruthie will perform at an official showcase along with other high-profile appearances in Austin that week.

Billboard announced three chart debuts: #2 on the magazine’s blues chart (behind only the late Etta James), #6 on the Heatseekers chart, and Foster’s first time on the Current Top 200 albums chart with a debut of #175.

The singer/songwriter has also received some of the highest press accolades of her career with Let It Burn:

“This is music that transcends genre. She performs . . . magic throughout Let It Burn” –Los Angeles Times

“Foster’s gripping versions of . . . “If I Had a Hammer” and . . . “Ring of Fire” cast these standards in an entirely fresh and soulful light and will hopefully expose [her] obvious talents to a larger audience.” —American Songwriter

“[She] comes into her own here. Not just as a stylist, mind you, but as a woman who can create [a] singular music patchwork, cross-pollinating and marching what she sees beyond genre lines.” —Paste

“An unexpected gem that deserves your full attention.” —Yahoo! Music

“Whichever era Foster picks, Let It Burn always feels utterly timeless.” — All Music

“ . . . makes the listener want to jump in the aisles and shout with joy.”—PopMatters

“Can burn up any stage with a voice that belts out soul, blues, rock and folk.”—Los Angeles Magazine

“Burn baby, burn.” —Austin Chronicle

The Grammy-nominated, Blues Music Award- and Austin Music Award-winning artist, who calls Texas home, recorded Let It Burn at New Orleans’ Piety Street Studios, with some of the city’s finest musicians, resulting in an infusion of fresh spices into her already rich sonic gumbo.

The New Orleans players — the Funky Meters, rhythm section of bassist George Porter Jr., drummer Russell Batiste, guitarist Dave Easley, and renowned saxophonistJamesRivers— collectively infuse the tracks with a groove-based, in-the-pocket vibe. The addition of Hammond B3 wizard Ike Stubblefield, who has toured and recorded with everyone from Curtis Mayfield to Eric Clapton, gives the album a jazzy organ-combo feel. Finally, legendary gospel singers the Blind Boys of Alabama, and soul icon William Bell, add extra depth to the project’s surprisingly diverse collection of cover songs and fresh originals. John Chelew produced the album.

Highlighting Foster’s strengths as an interpreter, Let It Burn features covers of an eclectic group of songs originally performed by Adele, The Black Keys, Los Lobos, Johnny Cash, The Band, Pete Seeger, John Martyn, Robbie Robertson, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. The album also includes several new Ruthie Foster compositions.

RUTHIE FOSTER TOUR CONTINUES
Tues., Feb. 7 ARCATA, CA Humboldt State University, with Paul Thorn
Wed., Feb. 8 NAPA, CA Napa Valley Opera House, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 9 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Great American Music Hall, with Paul Thorn
Fri., Feb. 10 SANTA BARBARA, CA UC Santa Barbara, with Paul Thorn
Sat., Feb. 11 PHOENIX, AZ The Compound Grill, with Paul Thorn
Sun., Feb. 12 TUCSON, AZ Berger Performing Arts Center, with Paul Thorn
Tues., Feb. 14 STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO Strings Music Pavilion, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 16 DURANGO, CO Fort Lewis College, with Paul Thorn
Fri., Feb. 17 BEAVER CREEK, CO Vilar Center for the Arts, with Paul Thorn
Sat., Feb. 18 DENVER, CO L2 Arts & Culture Center, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 23 THE WOODLANDS, TX Dosey Doe Café
Fri., Feb. 24 AUSTIN, TX Antone’s
Sat., Feb. 25 SAN ANTONIO, TX Sam’s Burger Joint
Tues., March 6 ANNAPOLIS, MD Ramshead, with Paul Thorn
Wed., March 7 ALEXANDRIA, VA Birchmere, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., March 8 PHILADELPHIA, PA WCL, with Paul Thorn
Fri., March 9 NEW YORK, NY City Winery, with Paul Thorn
Sat., March 10 CHATHAM, NJ The Sanctuary Concerts, with Paul Thorn
Wed.-Fri., March 14-16 AUSTIN, TX SXSW
Sat., March 17 DALLAS, TX Kessler Theater
Fri., March 23 DECATUR, GA Eddie’s Attic
Sat.-Sun., March 24-25 SAVANNAH, GA Savannah Music Fest, with Campbell Brothers
Wed., March 28 KANSAS CITY, MO Knucklehead’s, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., March 29 ST. LOUIS, MO Old Rock House, with Paul Thorn
Fri., March 30 BLOOMINGTON, IL The Castle Theater, with Paul Thorn
Sat., March 31 SCHAUMBURG, IL Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts
Mon.-Tues., April 2-3 MINNEAPOLIS, MN The Dakota, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., April 5 AUSTIN, TX Long Center for the Performing Arts
Sat., April 21 HOUSTON, TX Houston International Festival
Tues., May 2 LAFAYETTE, LA Acadiana Center for the Arts, with Paul Thorn
Fri., May 4 BATON ROUGE, LA Manship Theatre, with Paul Thorn
Sat., May 5 MERIDIAN, MS Mississippi State University, with Paul Thorn
Fri., May 11 SOUTH MILWAUKEE, WI South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
Sat., May 12 GREEN LAKE, WI Thrasher Opera House
Fri., May 18 CHEROKEE, TX Cherokee Creek Music Festival
Sun., May 20 CHARLESTON, WV Charlie West Blues Fest
Fri., June 1 MEMPHIS, TN Levitt Shell at Overton Park
Sat., June 2 EUREKA SPRINGS, AR Eureka Springs Blues Weekend
Sat., June 16 HENDERSON, KY Handy Blues and Barbeque Festival
Sat., June 30 LAYTONVILLE, CA Kate Wolf Music Festival

 

 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2012

RUTHIE FOSTER’S LET IT BURN ALBUM SHIPS JANUARY 31

2012 U.S. tour under way, with Grammy Museum webcast on
street date and SXSW appearance.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Ruthie Foster celebrates the release of her new album, Let It Burn, on Tuesday, January 31 with an appearance that night at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum. The performance and interview there will be available to fans throughout the world on a web simulcast http://www.yowie.com/videochat/5lx-ruthie-foster-live. The event kicks off a tour that continues into late spring with stops in all major cities including Austin for SXSW (March 14–16). The initial dates are co-bills with acclaimed Mississippi singer-songwriter Paul Thorn.

The Grammy-nominated, Blues Music Award- and Austin Music Award-winning artist, who calls Texas home, recorded the new album at New Orleans’ Piety Street Studios with many of the city’s venerable musicians, resulting in an infusion of fresh spices into her already rich sonic gumbo.

The New Orleans players — the Funky Meters’ rhythm section of bassist George Porter Jr. and drummer Russell Batiste, guitarist Dave Easley, and renowned saxophonist James Rivers — collectively infuse the tracks with a groove-based, in-the-pocket vibe. The addition of Hammond B3 wizard Ike Stubblefield, who has toured and recorded with everyone from Curtis Mayfield to Eric Clapton, gives the album a jazzy organ-combo feel. Finally, legendary gospel singers the Blind Boys of Alabama and soul icon William Bell add extra depth to the project’s surprisingly diverse collection of cover songs and fresh originals.

Highlighting Foster’s strengths as an interpreter, Let It Burn features covers of an eclectic group of songs originally performed by the likes of Adele, The Black Keys, Los Lobos, Johnny Cash, The Band, Pete Seeger, Crosby, Stills & Nash, John Martyn, Robbie Robertson. The album also includes several new Ruthie Foster compositions.

Let It Burn smolders, sizzles and ignites with an intensity born from Foster’s vibrant voice and indelible presence. In an early review in the Los Angeles Times, critic Randall Roberts noted, “To call Ruthie Foster a blues singer is to miss a big chunk of her allure as a vocal stylist, one who draws from a range of influences on her deep, soulful Let It Burn.” Texas Music Magazine called the album “not only organic but revelatory,” and Blues Revue’s online BluesWax.com said, “Let It Burn can not be overlooked.”

RUTHIE FOSTER TOUR DATES
Tues., Jan. 31 LOS ANGELES, CA Grammy Museum
Thurs., Feb. 2 PORTLAND, OR Aladdin Theater, with Paul Thorn
Fri., Feb. 3 SPOKANE, WA The Bing Crosby Theater, with Paul Thorn
Sat., Feb. 4 SEATTLE, WA The Triple Door, with Paul Thorn
Mon., Feb. 6 CHICO, CA Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., with Paul Thorn
Tues., Feb. 7 ARCATA, CA Humboldt State University, with Paul Thorn
Wed., Feb. 8 NAPA, CA Napa Valley Opera House, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 9 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Great American Music Hall, with Paul Thorn
Fri., Feb. 10 SANTA BARBARA, CA UC Santa Barbara, with Paul Thorn
Sat., Feb. 11 PHOENIX, AZ The Compound Grill, with Paul Thorn
Sun., Feb. 12 TUCSON, AZ Berger Performing Arts Center, with Paul Thorn
Tues., Feb. 14 STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO Strings Music Pavilion, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 16 DURANGO, CO Fort Lewis College, with Paul Thorn
Fri., Feb. 17 BEAVER CREEK, CO Vilar Center for the Arts, with Paul Thorn
Sat., Feb. 18 DENVER, CO L2 Arts & Culture Center, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 23 THE WOODLANDS, TX Dosey Doe Café
Fri., Feb. 24 AUSTIN, TX Antone’s
Sat., Feb. 25 SAN ANTONIO, TX Sam’s Burger Joint
Tues., March 6 ANNAPOLIS, MD Ramshead, with Paul Thorn
Wed., March 7 ALEXANDRIA, VA Birchmere, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., March 8 PHILADELPHIA, PA WCL, with Paul Thorn
Fri., March 9 NEW YORK, NY City Winery, with Paul Thorn
Sat., March 10 CHATHAM, NJ The Sanctuary Concerts, with Paul Thorn
Wed.-Fri., March 14-16 AUSTIN, TX SXSW
Fri., March 17 DALLAS, TX Kessler Theater
Fri., March 23 DECATUR, GA Eddie’s Attic
Sat.-Sun., March 24-25 SAVANNAH, GA Savannah Music Fest, with Campbell Brothers
Tues., March 27 WICHITA, KS Abode Venue, with Paul Thorn
Wed., March 28 KANSAS CITY, MO Knucklehead’s, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., March 29 ST. LOUIS, MO Old Rock House, with Paul Thorn
Fri., March 30 BLOOMINGTON, IL The Castle Theater, with Paul Thorn
Sat., March 31 SCHAUMBURG, IL Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts
Mon.-Tues., April 2-3 MINNEAPOLIS, MN The Dakota, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., April 5 AUSTIN, TX Long Center for the Performing Arts
Sat., April 21 HOUSTON, TX Houston International Festival
Tues., May 2 LAFAYETTE, LA Acadiana Center for the Arts, with Paul Thorn
Fri., May 4 BATON ROUGE, LA Manship Theatre, with Paul Thorn
Sat., May 5 MERIDIAN, MS Mississippi State University, with Paul Thorn
Fri., May 11 SOUTH MILWAUKEE, WI South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
Sat., May 12 GREEN LAKE, WI Thrasher Opera House
Fri., May 18 CHEROKEE, TX Cherokee Creek Music Festival
Sun., May 20 CHARLESTON, WV Charlie West Blues Fest
Fri., June 1 MEMPHIS, TN Levitt Shell at Overton Park
Sat., June 2 EUREKA SPRINGS, AR Eureka Springs Blues Weekend
Sat., June 16 HENDERSON, KY Handy Blues and Barbeque Festival
Sat., June 30 LAYTONVILLE, CA Kate Wolf Music Festival

# # #

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2011



RUTHIE FOSTER’S NEW ALBUM, LET IT BURN,
RECORDED IN NEW ORLEANS WITH SPECIAL GUESTS,
EXPANDS MUSICAL BOUNDARIES

January 31 release on Blue Corn Music features Blind Boys of Alabama, soul legend William Bell, and songs by Adele, Black Keys, Los Lobos, Johnny Cash, The Band, Pete Seeger, Crosby, Stills & Nash and more.

AUSTIN, Texas — Those who have followed Ruthie Foster’s eclectic musical history know that she can burn down any stage with her combustible blend of soul, blues, rock, folk and gospel. And when Grammy Award-winning producer John Chelew suggested she record an album in New Orleans — with support handpicked from the Crescent City’s overflowing pool of talent — it was an opportunity for Ruthie to infuse fresh spices into her already rich sonic gumbo. The result is Let It Burn — slated for January 31, 2012 release on Blue Corn Music — a recording that smolders, sizzles and ignites with an intensity born from her vibrant voice and indelible presence.

Ruthie’s astonishing voice has taken her on an amazing ride. She came from humble church choir beginnings in rural Texas, followed by a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy Band, and ended up in New York City with a major-label development deal that went sour. After she moved back to Texas to care for her ailing mother, Foster took a break from singing professionally for a couple of years. When she resumed her music career in Austin, she became a regular nominee at the Austin Music Awards, winning Best Folk Artist in 2004-05 and Best Female Vocalist in 2007-08. Broadening her sound by blending blues and soul aspects into her folk roots, Ruthie added a Grammy nomination to her list of achievements (Best Contemporary Blues Album for her last studio release, 2009’s The Truth According to Ruthie Foster). And, in a nod to her astounding range, she then won seemingly contradictory Blues Music Association awards for both Best Traditional and Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist in back-to-back years.

In addition to leading her own band and touring it around the world, Foster has also collaborated on stage and recordings with a diverse list of artists including Warren Haynes, Big Head Todd, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Bibb and Paul Thorn. She’s a regular favorite at an equally diverse list of festivals such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Monterey Blues Festival, Merlefest and the Kate Wolf Festival.

The ingredients for Let It Burn, recorded at New Orleans’ Piety Street Studios, start with some of that city’s most respected players: The Funky Meters’ rhythm section of bassist George Porter Jr. and drummer Russell Batiste, guitarist Dave Easley, and renowned saxophonist James Rivers collectively infuse the tracks with the groove-based, in-the-pocket vibe that comes naturally to New Orleans-bred musicians. The addition of Hammond B3 wizard Ike Stubblefield, who has toured and recorded with everyone from Curtis Mayfield to Eric Clapton, gives the album a jazzy organ-combo feel. Finally, legendary gospel singers the Blind Boys of Alabama and soul icon William Bell add extra depth to the project’s surprisingly eclectic collection of cover songs and fresh originals.

Besides the New Orleans location, there was another significant “first” associated with these sessions. “This is the only album I’ve done where I don’t play an instrument, which is really different. It gave me a lot more freedom vocally. Without a guitar, all I did was concentrate on singing,” Foster explains. “Sometimes I tried to channel Mavis Staples vocally, but I also wanted to bring a kind of Cassandra Wilson/Sade sultriness to some of the songs.”

The results are powerful, defining performances of Adele’s anthemic “Set Fire to the Rain,” John Martyn’s poignant and sensual “Don’t Want to Know,” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire,” all of which take on new vibrancy with distinctive musical arrangements and Ruthie’s commanding presence. The achingly beautiful, atmospheric ballad version of “Ring of Fire” is at the heart of this album, and potently showcases Foster as one of the finest interpretive singers of our time. “When it comes to songs, often older ones, I love it when they find me and that’s what happened with ‘Ring of Fire.’ I put myself inside of that song, which speaks to the passion of a new relationship,” she says.

Ruthie mines other tunes from a variety of sources such as the Black Keys (“Everlasting Light,” given a sparkling and righteous treatment), Pete Seeger (a dynamic, ominous swamp/jazz reimagining of “If I Had a Hammer”) and Los Lobos (the rambling, haunting “This Time”).

The church is never far from anything Foster touches as her spiritual original “Lord Remember Me” with the Blind Boys, featuring a sanctified slide solo from guitarist Easley, makes clear. The album’s opening and closing tracks also spotlight the Blind Boys and bookend the project with a devotional approach. “I haven’t lost my gospel in the way I approach a song,” explains Ruthie.

Another new Foster song is “Aim for the Heart” (a co-write with Jon Tiven), which works Porter’s funky bass, Stubblefield’s expressive organ and Easley’s snake-like guitar into a groove which supports the deeply personal motto (“Aim for the heart/And you’ll never go wrong”) that Foster has exhibited in both her life and music.

Rounding out this smoldering collection of tunes are covers of The Band’s melancholic “It Makes No Difference,” David Crosby’s politically charged “Long Time Gone” and William Bell’s classic “You Don’t Miss Your Water” (with Bell dueting on a slow, jazz/blues version of the standard, augmented by a stunning Rivers solo), all of which further display Ruthie’s uncanny knack for finding the simmering essence of any song.

On Let It Burn, Ruthie Foster takes the listener on her most personal journey yet, sounding like she is pouring her heart out late at night, and her deeply soulful vocals create a spiritual soundscape to support her testimony. This is the album her fans have been waiting for — and that the rest of the world will listen to in wonder.

RUTHIE FOSTER TOUR DATES

Sat., Jan. 14 NORFOLK, VA Attucks Theater
Sun., Jan. 15 CHARLESTON, WV Mountain Stage
Sat., Jan. 21 CROCKETT, TX Crockett Civic Theater
Tues., Jan. 31 LOS ANGELES, CA Grammy Museum (The Drop or L.A. media)
Wed., Feb. 1 LOS ANGELES, CA Grammy Museum (The Drop or L.A. media)
Thurs., Feb. 2 PORTLAND, OR Aladdin Theater, with Paul Thorn
Fri., Feb. 3 SPOKANE, WA The Bing Crosby Theater, with Paul Thorn
Sat., Feb. 4 SEATTLE, WA The Triple Door, with Paul Thorn
Mon., Feb. 6 CHICO, CA Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., with Paul Thorn
Tues., Feb. 7 ARCATA, CA Humboldt State University, with Paul Thorn
Wed., Feb. 8 NAPA, CA Napa Valley Opera House, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 9 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Great American Music Hall, with Paul Thorn
Fri., Feb. 10 SANTA BARBARA, CA UC Santa Barbara, with Paul Thorn
Sat., Feb. 11 PHOENIX, AZ The Compound Grill, with Paul Thorn
Sun., Feb. 12 TUCSON, AZ Berger Performing Arts Center, with Paul Thorn
Tues., Feb. 14 STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO Strings Music Pavilion, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 16 DURANGO, CO Fort Lewis College, with Paul Thorn
Fri., Feb. 17 BEAVER CREEK, CO Vilar Center for the Arts with Paul Thorn
Sat., Feb. 18 DENVER, CO Swallow Hill Music Presents @L2 Arts & Culture Center, with Paul Thorn
Thurs., Feb. 23 THE WOODLANDS, TX Dosey Doe Café
Fri., Feb. 24 AUSTIN, TX Antone’s
Fri., March 2 CARRBORO, NC Cat's Cradle, with Paul Thorn (T)
Sat., March 3 WINSTON-SALEM, NC Ziggy's, with Paul Thorn (T)
Sun., March 4 ROANOKE, VA Kirk Ave, with Paul Thorn (T)
Wed., March 7 ALEXANDRIA, VA Birchmere, with Paul Thorn (T)
Thurs., March 8 PHILADELPHIA, PA WCL, with Paul Thorn (T)
Fri., March 9 NEW YORK, NY City Winery, with Paul Thorn (T)
Sat., March 10 CHATHAM, NJ Sanctuary, with Paul Thorn (T)
Wed.-Fri., March 14-16 AUSTIN, TX SXSW
Fri., March 17 DALLAS, TX Kessler Theater
Sat.-Sun., March 24-25 SAVANNAH, GA Savannah Music Festival
Sat., March 31 SCHAUMBURG, IL Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts

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For more information about Ruthie Foster, please contact Conqueroo:
Cary Baker • (323) 656-1600 • cary@conqueroo.com



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Artist Photo