I'm lucky enough to have been around when Ruth Brown was being played on radio. And lucky enough to have been where radio stations would play her music. She was definitely one of the greats.
Ruth Brown, R&B Singer and Actress, Dies at 78 - New York Times: "Ruth Brown, the gutsy rhythm-and-blues singer whose career extended to acting and crusading for musicians’ rights, died today in Las Vegas. She was 78 and lived in Las Vegas. Her death was announced by Howell Begle, her lawyer and executor. Ms. Brown had been on life support since suffering a heart attack and stroke on Oct. 29, he said.
Ms. Brown sustained a career for six decades: first as a bright, bluesy singer who was called “the girl with a tear in her voice” and then, after some lean years, as the embodiment of an earthy, indomitable black woman. She had a life of hard work, hard luck, determination, sass and style. Sometimes it was said that R&B stood for Ruth Brown as much as for rhythm-and-blues.
As the 1950’s began, Ms. Brown’s singles for the fledgling Atlantic Records — like “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” and “5-10-15 Hours” — became both the label’s bankroll and templates for rock ’n’ roll. She could sound as if she were hurting, or joyfully lusty, or both at once. Her voice was forthright, feisty and ready for anything."