Ruth Brown (January 30, 1928 - November 17, 2006) was an American R&B singer, and actress noted for bringing a popular music style to rhythm and blues in a series of hit songs for fledgling Atlantic Records in the 1950s, such as "So Long", "Teardrops from My Eyes" and "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean." For these contributions, Atlantic became known as "The house that Ruth built." Following a resurgence that began in the mid-1970s and peaked in the eighties, Brown used her influence to press for musicians' rights regarding royalties and contracts, which led to the founding of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Her performances in the Broadway musical Black and Blue earned Brown a Tony Award, and the original soundtrack won a Grammy Award. Born Ruth Alston Weston in Portsmouth, Virginia, she attended I. C.
Norcom High School, a historically black high school. Brown's father was a dockhand who directed the local church choir, but the young Ruth showed more of an interest in singing at USO shows and nightclubs. She was inspired by Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington. In 1945, Brown ran away from her home in Portsmouth along with a trumpeter, Jimmy Brown, whom she soon married, to sing in bars and clubs.
She then spent a month with Lucky Millinder's orchestra, but was fired after she brought drinks to the band for free, and was left stranded in Washington, D.C. Blanche Calloway, Cab Calloway's sister, also a bandleader, arranged a gig for Brown at a Washington nightclub called Crystal Caverns and soon became her manager. Willis Conover, a Voice of America disc jockey, caught her act and recommended her to Atlantic Records bosses, Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson. Brown was unable to audition as planned though, because of a serious car accident that resulted in a nine-month hospital stay.Make Ruth Brown Playlist