Ruth Weston sang Gospel in her father’s church before she joined Lucky Millinder‘s band while still a teenager. On the road, she married trumpeter Jimmy Brown, but a couple of years later she was fired from the band over an alcohol related incident. Ruth was one of Atlantic Records’ first signings, but her debut was delayed by a bad auto accident. Ahmet Ertegun kept faith with her, and it paid off when she finally got into the studio, as her sweet seductive voice ensured that her first release, ‘So Long’ was a hit in late 1949.
‘Ruthie’ didn’t lack confidence, as this TV performance with Willie Bryant shows;
After a quiet spell in the 60s, Ruth staged a comeback in musicals, winning a Tony on Broadway, touring with Guys and Dolls and co-starring in the TV sit-com ‘Hello Larry’. She appeared in several films, including ‘Hairspray’, and in the late 80s she returned to recording. Ruth’s 1989 album, ‘Blues on Broadway’ won a Grammy and she was nominated for another in 1997 for ‘R+B= Ruth Brown’. Ruth was a tireless advocate for artists seeking the rights and royalties for their work, helping to start the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and as a big-hearted singer she continued to perform and record to the end.