Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dakota Shakes: Ruthie Foster Shares Her Love

Love was in the air last night at the Dakota Jazz Club as Ruthie Foster's Soul Salvation Tour invaded Minneapolis like Sherman took Atlanta: she and her band "Let It Burn"!

Before the evening was over, a young couple got engaged to the strains of perhaps the most creative and beautiful arrangements of June Carter's "Ring of Fire" and a line was drawn in the sand that at least one member of my generation was not willing to cede, at least not yet, the mantle of greatest female musician to Brittany Howard and her incredible band mates in the Alabama Shakes. As far as I am concerned, as great a talent as Ms. Howard is, and I'm sure Brittany would be the first to admit it, Ruthie Foster is the First Lady of American Music.

Whether it was blues, soul, gospel or reggae, Ruthie was dead on. Her taste in material (Los Lobos, William Bell, and Bob Marley just to name a few) is exceptional. Her tone and phrasing is exquisite. While the power of her voice could easily be intimidating, her natural grace, honesty and the warmth of her personality keeps her immense talent in check. Her humanity is inspirational.

The fact that she did a duet with my personal hero and music idol, William Bell on her latest cd, is just another in a long list of reasons why I love this woman.

But how do I really feel about Ms. Foster? Just ask anyone who has been within earshot, email, or telephone range of my voice the last three months and you have heard me speak of the esteemed Ms. Foster.

Last night I was not disappointed.

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