Debee Feaster

Written by Debee Feaster

Modified & Updated: 10 Jul 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Ruth Brown was an influential figure in the world of music. Widely regarded as the “Queen of R&B,” she captivated audiences with her powerful voice and dynamic stage presence. Born in 1928 in Portsmouth, Virginia, Brown rose to fame in the 1950s and was one of the first African American artists to cross over to the mainstream music scene.

Throughout her career, Ruth Brown made a significant impact on the music industry, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire artists to this day. From her chart-topping hits to her involvement in civil rights activism, Brown’s life was filled with remarkable accomplishments and captivating stories. In this article, we will dive into 19 fascinating facts about Ruth Brown, shedding light on her extraordinary journey and the impact she had on the world of music.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ruth Brown, also known as “Miss Rhythm,” broke records with her soulful voice and had over 20 top 10 hits on the R&B charts, inspiring artists like Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.
  • Despite facing challenges, Ruth Brown’s resilience and talent made her a Grammy-winning artist, Broadway star, and advocate for musician’s rights, leaving an immeasurable impact on rhythm and blues.
Table of Contents

The Early Life

Ruth Brown was born on January 30, 1928, in Portsmouth, Virginia. She grew up in a musical household, as her father was a church choir director.

The Nickname

She was often referred to as “Miss Rhythm,” a nickname that perfectly captured her ability to bring energy and soul to her performances.

The Record Breaker

Ruth Brown holds the record for the most consecutive chart hits by a female artist on the Billboard R&B charts. She achieved this feat between 1949 and 1955.

The Inspiration

Ruth Brown drew inspiration from jazz and blues musicians like Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. Their distinctive styles influenced her own unique sound.

The Hits

Some of Ruth Brown’s most popular songs include “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” “Teardrops from My Eyes,” and “Lucky Lips.

The Acting Career

In addition to her musical success, Ruth Brown also pursued a career in acting. She appeared in several films, including “Hairspray” and “Blues Brothers 2000.

The Hall of Fame

Ruth Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, recognizing her significant contributions to the genre.

The Grammy Award

She won a Grammy Award in 1989 for her album “Blues on Broadway,” which showcased her exceptional vocal talents.

The Broadway Star

Ruth Brown made her Broadway debut in the 1989 musical “Black and Blue,” earning rave reviews for her performance.

The Activist

Throughout her career, Ruth Brown advocated for the rights of artists and fought against unfair business practices in the music industry.

The National Medal of Arts

In 2000, she received the National Medal of Arts from then-President Bill Clinton, further recognizing her impact on American culture.

The Hitmaker

During her career, Ruth Brown had more than twenty top 10 hits on the R&B charts, solidifying her status as one of the most successful artists of her time.

The Influence

Ruth Brown’s soulful voice and dynamic stage presence influenced countless performers who came after her, including Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner.

The Blues Foundation

In 1997, she became the first female recipient of the Blues Foundation’s WC Handy Keeping the Blues Alive Award.

The Lasting Legacy

Ruth Brown’s impact on music continues to be felt today. Her recordings are cherished by fans and revered by musicians across genres.

The Television Appearances

Ruth Brown made numerous television appearances throughout her career, including on shows like “Late Night with David Letterman” and “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

The Route 90 Conference

She was a key participant in the Route 90 conference, which aimed to improve opportunities for African American musicians.

The Books

Ruth Brown published two autobiographies, “Miss Rhythm” and “Blues on Broadway,” providing further insight into her life and career.

The Road to Success

Ruth Brown faced numerous challenges during her career but overcame them with determination and talent. Her resilience serves as an inspiration to aspiring artists.

Ruth Brown’s contributions to music and entertainment are immeasurable. Her powerful voice and captivating performances continue to resonate with audiences around the world. Whether you’re a long-time fan or just discovering her music, Ruth Brown’s impact on rhythm and blues is undeniable.


Ruth Brown was a groundbreaking and influential figure in the world of music. Her impact on the music industry, particularly in the genres of rhythm and blues and jazz, cannot be overstated. With a voice that exuded power, emotion, and versatility, Ruth Brown captivated audiences and paved the way for future generations of artists.

Throughout her career, Ruth Brown achieved numerous accomplishments, including chart-topping hits, Grammy awards, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Beyond her musical achievements, she was also an advocate for artists’ rights, fighting for fair treatment and proper compensation.

Ruth Brown’s legacy lives on through her timeless music, her contributions to the industry, and her impact on future generations of musicians. Her vibrant and soulful performances continue to inspire and entertain audiences to this day.


1. What is Ruth Brown best known for?

Ruth Brown is best known for her contributions to the genres of rhythm and blues and jazz. She had chart-topping hits and was an influential figure in the music industry.

2. How many Grammy awards did Ruth Brown win?

Ruth Brown won multiple Grammy awards throughout her career, including the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

3. Was Ruth Brown inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Yes, Ruth Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, in recognition of her significant impact and contributions to the genre.

4. Did Ruth Brown advocate for artists’ rights?

Yes, Ruth Brown was a passionate advocate for artists’ rights. She fought for fair treatment and proper compensation for musicians, leaving a lasting impact on the industry.

5. What is the legacy of Ruth Brown?

Ruth Brown’s legacy is one of musical excellence, advocacy, and inspiration. Her soulful performances and immense talent continue to captivate audiences, and her impact on future generations of musicians is profound.

Ruth Brown's incredible journey paved the way for countless artists, making her a true pioneer. Her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame solidified her place in music history. Brown's success wouldn't have been possible without visionaries like Ahmet Ertegun, who helped build Atlantic Records into a powerhouse label. Ertegun's legacy lives on through the countless Rhythm and Blues artists he discovered and nurtured. Today, festivals celebrating this genre continue to draw crowds, keeping the spirit of Rhythm and Blues alive for new generations to enjoy.

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