Ruthie Foster is from a small town in central Texas — but there's nothing small about the way she sings on her new album, Let It Burn. Zigzagging between blues, soul, gospel and rock, the album features solid originals and surprising covers, along with several stirring collaborations with The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Foster herself has followed a winding path in her career, including a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy Band and a stint in New York City, where she briefly had a contract with Atlantic Records.
"New York was a great experience. I try to say yes to opportunity, and it was an opportunity to be a songwriter," she says. "I learned a lot about different ways to write a song, how to keep an audience, how to keep people from walking out. I can say I walked away a better musician."
Ultimately, Foster left New York and returned to Texas, this time settling in the musical mecca of Austin.
I decided I needed to go back to my home base and write about the things that I know," she says. "That's when my music started to really change."