January 30th in African American History – Ruth Alston Weston (Ruth Brown)

Ruth Alston Weston (Ruth Brown)January 30, 1928 Ruth Alston Weston (Ruth Brown), R&B singer and actress, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Brown recorded her first hit, “So Long,” in 1949 and from that time to 1955 was on the R&B charts for 149 weeks with 16 top 10 blues records, including five number ones. Those hits were “Teardrops From My Eyes” (1950), “I’ll Wait For You” (1951), “5-10-15 Hours” (1952), “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” (1953), and “Oh What a Dream” (1954).

In 1989, Brown won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance on Broadway in “Black and Blue” and in 1990 she won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal by a Female for her album “Blues on Broadway.” Brown’s fight for musician’s rights and royalties in 1987 led to the founding of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. She was an inaugural inductee as a Pioneer Award recipient in the foundation’s hall of fame in 1989 and in 1993 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Brown’s autobiography, “Miss Rhythm,” was published in 1996 and she died November 17, 2006.

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