#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 “Honeydripper” 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 “Miss 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 “The House that Ruth Built.”
Among Brown's classics were “Teardrops from My Eyes” and “(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 “Hairspray” as Motormouth Maybelle and appeared in several TV series and films. Brown won a Tony Award for her role in “Black and Blue” and a Grammy for her album “Blues 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 “one of the original divasŠshe was a combination of sass and innocence, and she was extremely funky.”
“She had a great heart,” Raitt added.