Roots of Rock 'n' Roll (1940s-1950s)

Ruth Brown, born Ruth Alston Weston on January 12, 1928, in Portsmouth, Virginia, was an American R&B and blues singer known for her powerful and emotive vocal style. She was one of the pioneering female artists in the early days of rhythm and blues and played a vital role in shaping the genre. Here are some key points about Ruth Brown's career and influence:

  1. Early Career: Ruth Brown began her career as a singer in the 1940s, initially performing in local clubs and with various jazz and R&B bands. She was discovered by the bandleader Lucky Millinder, and her recording career started with his band.
  2. Hits and Stardom: Ruth Brown gained popularity in the early 1950s with a string of hits on the Atlantic Records label. Some of her most well-known songs include "So Long," "Teardrops from My Eyes," "5-10-15 Hours," and "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean." Her recordings often featured a combination of blues and R&B elements.
  3. Atlantic Records: Ruth Brown was one of the first artists signed to Atlantic Records, a record label known for its significant contributions to the development of rhythm and blues and early rock 'n' roll. Her success at Atlantic Records contributed to the label's growing reputation.
  4. Influence: Brown's powerful and emotionally charged singing style, often characterized by her remarkable vocal range, had a profound influence on future R&B and soul artists. She is sometimes referred to as the "Queen of R&B" and is considered a trailblazer for female artists in the genre.
  5. Acting and Advocacy: In addition to her music career, Ruth Brown also pursued acting. She appeared in movies, television shows, and on Broadway. Later in life, she became an advocate for the rights of recording artists and played a crucial role in the passage of the "Ruth Brown Act," which aimed to provide better royalty rights for artists.
  6. Awards and Recognition: Ruth Brown received numerous awards and accolades for her contributions to music, including a Grammy Award for her album "Blues on Broadway." She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
  7. Later Career: Ruth Brown's career had its ups and downs, but she experienced a resurgence in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, largely due to her role in the Broadway musical "Black and Blue."

Ruth Brown's music and vocal talent left an indelible mark on the world of R&B, blues, and early rock 'n' roll. Her pioneering work and enduring influence have solidified her status as an important figure in the history of American music. She passed away on November 17, 2006, leaving behind a legacy of exceptional recordings and contributions to the music industry.