ACL Spotlight: Ruthie Foster
We’re excited to be covering the Austin City Limits Music Festival (aka ACL) this year. As a part of our coverage, all week we’ll be bringing you profiles of the bands and artists that will grace the Festival’s 8 stages.
Although she spends most of her time on the road now, I still consider Ruthie Foster an Austin musician. Let It Burn is Ruthie’s latest album, which was released earlier this year and what’s she has been out promoting to audiences worldwide. She’s bringing her full band and mix of soul, blues, rock, folk and gospel to help wrap up the Festival on Sunday.
Ruthie began making music as a girl as part of the church choir in rural Texas, and then took her show on the road with the U.S. Navy Band. After a stint in New York, Ruthie moved back to Texas to take care of her ailing mom and then landed in Austin a few years later. Austin immediately embraced her powerful vocals and warm yet commanding stage presence and Ruthie’s fanbase quickly grew, along with awards and accolades such as Best Folk Artist and Best Female Vocalist from the Austin Music Awards and the seeimingly-contradictory nod for Best Traditional and Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist from the Blues Music Association in back-to-back years.
You can catch Ruthie Foster on Sunday Oct 14 at 5:45 PM on the Zilker Stage and Sunday Oct 14 at 7:15 PM at the Waterloo Autograph Tent.
We were thrilled to catch up with Ruthie before she hit the road for ACL. When I asked her how she felt about playing the Festival, she said, “I’m happy to be invited.” Ruthie credits Austin City Limits for nurturing musicians and music really making Austin the Live Music Capital of the World. Ruthie said she’s looking forward to having a chance to play in front of an Austin audience again, since she hasn’t been in town as much since recording her last three albums.
This will be the first ACL Ruthie’s 18-month-old daughter Maya will attend (who Ruthie lovingly refers to as “this little bundle of joy in diapers.”). Ruthie will be taking Maya home on Saturday for bed so her partner Katie can go see the Red Hot Chili Peppers. “We’ll be pulling out the big stroller,” Ruthie remarked, with a laugh.
Ruthie loves being back in Austin “because it’s a fantastic city to come home to after being on the road. It’s just small enough to feel like a real community.” When she’s back in town, she admits it can be hard to get her out of the house, but she does love checking out new restaurants on the East Side with Katie.
What is it like being “Momsy” to an active toddler while you are traveling the world? Like many moms, Ruthie admitted it can be hard to juggle life on and off the road with the demands of an active kid. “When I’m off the road, I’m ‘on’,” Ruthie explains. Ruthie told me a funny story of taking Maya to her back studio so she could get some laundry done (mentioning that Maya is at an age where she needs to keep a close eye on her). Maya grabbed a mic and started singing. “Maya is becoming more aware of who I am,” said Ruthie. Ruthie describes her as a real ham when it comes to music, and considers her a real inspiration to be more creative. Maya will be going on her first Blues Cruise soon, and Katie brings her to kid-friendly performances when Ruthie is in town.
Ruthie’s looking forward to spending time with her family while she is in Austin. After ACL, Ruthie is headed back on the road. She’s really looking forward to playing in Australia and Portugal and hope to add more international dates to her schedule.
When you’re in the audience, even at a large venue like Blues on the Green, Ruthie has a way of making you feel as though she’s just playing to a group of friends. Warm. Approachable. Humble. Real. In fact, the same kind of qualities that Austinites are known for. It’s exactly the same feeling I had after chatting with her. And it’s why people everywhere have welcomed her and her music into their towns, homes and hearts.