Blues singer Ruth Brown dies
LOS ANGELES – Ruth Brown, whose recordings of “Teardrops in My Eyes,” “5-10-15 Hours” and “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” shot her to rhythm-and-blues stardom in the 1950s, died Friday. She was 78.
Brown died of complications from a stroke and heart attack at a Las Vegas-area hospital, said Lindajo Loftus, a publicist for the Rhythm & Blues Foundation.
She was the subject of a photographic tribute by Carson City celebrity photographer Charles Adams in 2000. She visited the Nevada State Library and Archives building where the exhibit was on display on Feb. 24, 2000, to meet with fans.
Carson City officials declared that day as “Ruth Brown Day.”
Brown’s soulful voice produced dozens of hits for Atlantic Records, cementing the fledgling record label’s reputation as an R&B powerhouse.
But as R&B and rock ‘n’ roll fell out of style in the late 1950s, Brown and her musical contemporaries were forced into retirement. She spent most of the 1960s raising her two sons alone and earning a living as a maid, school bus driver and teacher.
Brown enjoyed a career renaissance in the mid-70s when she began recording blues and jazz tunes for a variety of labels and found success on the stage and in movies.
She won acclaim in the R&B musical “Staggerlee” and won a Tony Award for best actress in the Broadway revue “Black and Blue.”
She also played a feisty deejay in the 1988 cult movie “Hairspray.” A year later, she won a Grammy for best jazz vocal performance for the 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.”
She also formed the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit dedicated to providing financial and medical assistance for aging R&B musicians.