Community-Building Musician Ruthie Foster Honored with Star Outside the Paramount

“We take care of our own, Austin!”

Ruthie Foster receives a star on the walkway in front of the Paramount Theater on November 19 (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Friends, family, and fans of Ruthie Foster braved frigid temperatures and downtown parking headaches on Saturday night to celebrate the genre-defying, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter as she became just the sixth artist inducted into the Paramount Theatre’s "Avenue of Paramount Stars.”

Foster’s name now comfortably resides on Congress Avenue alongside past honorees Delbert McClinton, Lyle Lovett, Jerry Jeff Walker, Jaston Williams, and Joe Sears, making Foster the first woman and first person of color to receive the distinction. Pre-unveiling, a short but soul-stirring ceremony honored Foster for her decades of musical and community-building contributions to Austin. Among the attendees were a handful of major names in Austin entertainment history, from fellow Paramount Star honorees McLinton and Williams to pioneering blues singer Marcia Ball, who praised Foster as “embodying the true meaning of Americana music.”

Hand in hand with daughter Maya, East Texas native Foster humbly thanked those closest to her and laughed at the magnetic pull of her home state. “When I moved back to Texas, it was to take care of my family,” said Foster. “I spent a lot of time running from Texas, and then I found myself trying to get back as fast as I possibly could.”

Photo by Jana Birchum

Giving back to local creatives remains a priority for Foster, who noted her work with local nonprofit Housing Opportunities for Musicians and Entertainers (HOME): “Because we take care of our own, Austin!”

Riding the momentum of the night’s festivities, Foster took to the stage with her full backing band for the first live performance of her day-old ninth studio album Healing Time. Radiant in yellow and barefoot, the singer hit her stride with the yearning first chorus of opening track “Soul Searching.” From the slow-burning, broken-hearted ballad “What Kind of Fool” to the new album’s life-affirming title track, Foster and her band mixed and matched genres with ease.

Between cracking jokes with her crowd (“I had the chance to be a part of a ceremony earlier; I was hoping my eyelashes wouldn't come off from crying!”) to her obvious chemistry with longtime bandmates (“We wrote and recorded this album together, and now we get to perform together, so this is like coming home for us”), Foster brought an undeniable joy and sense of kinship to the process of making live music.

In traditional Foster fashion, the local legend drew the night to a close by expressing gratitude to her audience and those who’ve helped her along the way. “There are so many beautiful folks here tonight that help make music happen, right here, on this stage in Downtown Austin. This city is so nurturing for music and musicians. Let’s keep that going!”

With trailblazers like Foster leading the way, her wish will hopefully come true.

Marcia Ball congratulates Ruthie Foster (Photo by Jana Birchum)
(L-R) Marcia Ball, previous Paramount star honoree Jaston Williams, Ruthie Foster, previous Paramount star honoree Delbert McClinton, and his wife Wendy McClinton (Photo by Jana Birchum)
Photo by Jana Birchum

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