- Ruthie Foster at Capilano University's NSCU Centre, Saturday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m. Tickets $35/$32.
SINGER Ruthie Foster says her often emotional music reflects her diverse life experiences.
"I draw inspiration from my, daughter, I have a 13-month-old now and it's just daily inspiration watching the little one discover the world all over again. And from my family and friends what they go through, their stories," she says.
Foster's sound is influenced by blues, gospel, folk, jazz and soul and she says she mixes the styles in her own music. In 2010 Foster won the Blues Music Award for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist which is only one of her many accolades.
Growing up in Gause, Texas Foster remembers singing in church from a young age and performing her first solo at 14. "I started singing on my mothers request. It was kinda one of those things where everybody in my family sung so it was just my turn to do a solo in church," she says. "Music gave me a chance to come out of my shell and if I couldn't say the things I wanted to say to people, I could always put them in a song or poem."
With a mother who loved gospel and a father who was more into Blues, Foster drew from many different musical influences early in life.
After finishing high school she moved to Waco and took commercial music at McLennan Community College before moving to New York to pursue her musical career.
Feeling some burnout from the music business Foster decided to join the U.S. Navy. She was stationed in San Diego as part of a squadron that oversaw the operation of helicopters. Foster says the experience brought her in touch with new people, cultures and foods.
"On night watches I was picking up the guitar again and I realized I needed to get back to the music, realizing pretty much that's what I'm here for," she says.
Foster then joined a navy band and served the rest of her four years as a singer in Charleston, South Carolina.
"I was really honing my performance chops and how to entertain and audience," she says.
After some time back in New York Foster moved home to Texas to care for her mother. She worked as a camera person at a news station having done some training previously.
In 1996 Foster, now living in Austin, Texas, returned to her musical career full time. She says it has been the best thing in her life.
Foster recorded her eighth album, Let It Burn, earlier this year in New Orleans. She cowrote three songs on the album including "Welcome Home" inspired by an Emmanuel quote: "Our mind doesn't know the way, our heart has already been there, and our soul never left. Welcome home."
Foster says, "It was a lot about my own journey, after doing all of these things basically saying yes to every opportunity that came my way I felt like I needed some grounding. And I came across that saying and it was a great, fantastic way to come back to self. Come back to home. Come back to the person I know I am, my mothers daughter, Ruthie."
Foster has played in Canada many times and says that Canadians have a great love for any music that is empowering and makes them feel good. Tomorrow night's concert opens this year's Global Roots Series. Other performers coming up include The Lost Fingers, Ana Moura and Jill Barber.
Fiona Black, director of programming at Capilano University, says she is very excited to have Foster performing.
"She's got a one in a million voice. I don't know anyone who isn't blown away by how powerful, beautiful, strong and unique her voice is," says Black, who has booked Foster at Capilano University before.
Foster hopes that her music makes a connection with her audience, especially to teens that are struggling to figure out who they are.
"Some say that my music has been part of a journey for a long time, what ever that journey may be. A woman mentioned that she used my music during her chemo. My music's been used during the delivery of babies, beautiful things like that.
When you're being told that your music's being used for that, that's empowering and that brings me back to all the little decisions I've made up until now and reminds me that I'm in the right place."