Spreading the Word

Six "New' acts for people who appreciate good music

Spreading the Word
Photo By Todd V. Wolfson

Ruthie Foster

The first thing anyone notices about Ruthie Foster is her voice. It seems too big and powerful to be coming from just one person. She uses it to maximum effect, too, in songs that are an extraordinary mix of blues, gospel, roots, and folk. What's equally amazing is that she makes her music solely on acoustic guitar, with the assistance of percussionist Cyd Cassone.

Foster, who currently calls College Station home, is originally from Gause, a small town southeast of Dallas. Nor surprisingly, she had a musical family whose mother encouraged her to "open your mouth and sing, girl."

In the early Nineties, Foster moved to New York City, where she was under contract to Atlantic Records. While there, "they wanted me to write the ultimate power ballad," she recalls. It was a good learning experience, but not really her style. In 1993, Foster's mother became ill, and the aspiring singer-songwriter returned to Texas. Over the past few years, she's released three CDs.

The most recent, Runaway Soul, was released in June and produced by Lloyd Maines. It captures the depth of Foster's sound by including some fervently performed originals as well as solid and soulful covers of tunes by the likes of Brownie McGhee, Big Maybelle, and Terri Hendrix. Already a huge favorite at the Kerrville Folk Festival, the dreadlocked singer has been on tour most of the summer, which included a trip across Canada where she has performed in folk festivals in Nova Scotia, Winnepeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver.

She returns to Central Texas in September for an appearance at Stubb's and at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Catch her while you can, she's not to be missed.

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