#8216;Honeydripper#039; loses scheduled cast member

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2006

Ruth Brown, legendary rhythm and blues singer, was originally scheduled to join the cast and crew of &#8220Honeydripper” this fall for a role in the John Sayles film.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member passed away November 17 in a Las Vegas hospital after complications from a stroke and heart attack. She had been on life support since Oct. 29.

At the time of her passing, Brown had already recorded songs for the film's blues-oriented soundtrack.

A colorful character known for her powerful voice, sassy style and generous heart, Brown was considered the first true rhythm and blues singer, combining blues, gospel and jazz with a style that earned her the nickname &#8220Miss Rhythm.”

She was a hit-maker for Atlantic Records in the late ‘40s through the late ‘'50s, with the fledgling record company becoming known as &#8220The House that Ruth Built.”

Among Brown's classics were &#8220Teardrops from My Eyes” and &#8220(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean.”

When musical tastes changed in the early 1960s, the performer, a single mother of two small boys, found herself forced to work jobs as a maid, school bus driver and HeadStart teacher to make ends meet.

A career revival in the 1970s brought Brown back into the limelight.

She went on to score a hit in &#8220Hairspray” as Motormouth Maybelle and appeared in several TV series and films. Brown won a Tony Award for her role in &#8220Black and Blue” and a Grammy for her album &#8220Blues on Broadway” in 1989.

Brown continued to work concerts, clubs and festivals into the 21st century.

As a tireless activist, she also fought on behalf of fellow musicians for the royalties they deserved, but often failed to receive.

Bonnie Raitt called her friend Brown &#8220one of the original divasŠshe was a combination of sass and innocence, and she was extremely funky.”

&#8220She had a great heart,” Raitt added.