|Posted by: editoron Saturday, November 18, 2006 - 08:58 AM
her fight for royalty reform for herself and other R&B Artists,
passed away on November 17, 2006 in a Las Vegas area hospital from
complications following a stroke and heart attack. Howell Begle,
longtime friend and legal representative made the announcement for
Known as "The Girl with a Tear in her Voice", "The Original Queen of
Rhythm & Blues," "Miss Rhythm & Blues," and the well-known moniker
of "Miss Rhythm," the nickname given her by Mr. Rhythm, Frankie Lane,
Ruth Brown was also credited as the first star made by Atlantic
Records. Her regal hit-making reign from 1949 to the close of
the '50s helped tremendously to establish the New York label's
predominance in the R&B field, a track record for which the young
label was referred to as "The House That Ruth Built."
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Ruth Brown, R&B star in 1950s, dies in Las Vegas at age 78
LOS ANGELES - Ruth Brown's recordings of "Teardrops in My Eyes" and "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" dominated the rhythm-and-blues charts in the 1950s and earned her the nickname "Miss Rhythm."
But her other nickname might as well be "Miss Survivor" for sustaining through the highs and lows of a six decades-long career.
Brown died Friday at a Las Vegas-area hospital of complications from a stroke and heart attack, said Lindajo Loftus, a publicist for the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, which Brown helped found.
"Ruth was one of the most important and beloved figures in modern music," singer Bonnie Raitt said in a statement. "You can hear her influence in everyone from Little Richard to Etta (James), Aretha (Franklin), Janis (Joplin) and divas like Christina Aguilera today."
"She was my dear friend and I will miss her terribly," Raitt said.
Brown shot to stardom in 1949 when her recording of the ballad "So Long" became a hit. Her soulful voice produced dozens of hits for Atlantic Records, cementing the then-fledgling label's reputation as an R&B powerhouse.
Trained in a church choir in her hometown of Portsmouth, Va., Brown sang a range of style from jazz to gospel-blues in such hits as "5-10-15 Hours" and "Teardrops in My Eyes."
But as R&B fell out of style in the late 1950s and other artists took over the charts, Brown was forced to find other work. She worked as a maid, school bus driver and teacher to support herself and her two sons for the next decade and a half.
Brown made a comeback in the mid-70s when she began recording blues and jazz tunes for a variety of labels and found success on stage and in television, radio and movies.
She won acclaim in the R&B musical "Staggerlee" and a Tony Award for best actress in the Broadway revue "Black and Blue."
She had a memorable role as the feisty deejay Motormouth Maybelle in the 1988 cult movie "Hairspray." A year later, she won a Grammy for best jazz vocal performance for her album "Blues on Broadway."
Brown continued to perform and record in her later years, becoming a popular host of National Public Radio's "Harlem Hit Parade" and "BluesStage."
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
In her latter years, she became a prominent advocate for R&B and blues musicians of her generation who were fighting to get unpaid royalties from record labels. Her effort led to the formation of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to providing financial and medical assistance, as well as the historical and cultural preservation of the musical genre.
Brown was survived by sons Earl Swanson and Ron Jackson; brothers Leonard Weston, Benjamin Weston and Alvin Weston; and sister Delia Weston.
Funeral arrangements were pending. The Rhythm & Blues Foundation said details would be released soon regarding a public memorial for Brown to be held in New York City.