|She chirps like an early-morning bird, rocks you like reggae and seeps into your bloodstream like any good artiste does. Her lyrics are straightforward, unusual and compelling. Her voice is smoky, melodic and strong. She sings about love and pain; social injustices and happiness; life and everything in between…not quite like any one you’ve ever heard or seen before. She’ll turn your head in a split second and have you asking, "Who is that?" Her name is Ruth. Heike Wollenweber did an interview with this up-and-coming young songbird.|
Heike: I'll let Ruth introduce herself...
Ruth: Well, my name is Ruth-Ann Brown and I'm a Jamaican by birth. I'm a trained high-school English teacher and I started singing and songwriting professionally in 2005. I've been signed to Bran-Nu Entertainment since 2007 and since then, I've been undergoing artiste development and working on my upcoming debut album.
Heike: Well, we're going to talk about all of that just a little bit later, but first of all tell us a bit more about how you got started in the business as an artiste and as a songwriter also.
Ruth: Well, actually I did it somewhat impulsively by the suggestion of a friend who thought I had a great voice and great writing skills so I did a demo just for personal reasons to hear what I sounded like and then in 2007 when I started working with Ric Zheron and Bran-Nu Entertainment, I realized that I did something very serious and I needed to stick it out because people really started loving my music and you know, getting inspiration from it so I said I have to stay in this business for the people.
Heike: True true. I definitely agree with that one. How would you describe your style of music?
Ruth: Well, I would describe my music as an emotional experience. Whenever something is happening in my life, and I find it too intense to keep inside me, I write about it so my music tends to be quite honest because I write my songs while my experiences are still fresh.
Heike: So your lyrics are based on a lot of your personal experiences...
Ruth: Oh yes, I mean, I think I could write about other things but so far it's basically my personal experiences that are in my songs.
Heike: Your biggest song to date was 'Unfamiliar Feelings' which also had a video. What do you think made that song so successful?
Ruth: Well, I think 'Unfamiliar Feelings' has been successful because people can feel it and relate to the experience that I'm singing about and those who can't relate to it find the production and the instrumentation quite remarkable so I think that's why it has done so well. Furthermore, it's quite different from what's out there now in the world of Reggae.
Heike: Right, right... So how do you think it differs or how is it different from what's out there in Reggae music right now?
Ruth: Well, I think people... well, based on what people have said, they said it's very fresh, they said it's very refreshing and different... ah, the video, I think it would be more of an alternative, futuristic thing – more of a metaphoric message in the music.
Heike: The video for the song 'Unfamiliar Feelings' was also very successful. You all can check it out on YouTube. Go and check out the video – Ruth-Ann Brown and you're based in Washington DC now. right?
Ruth: Yea, I'm in Washington, DC – not Washington state but Washington DC.
Heike: So how does it affect your career as a Reggae artiste that you're not in Jamaica?
Ruth: Well, when I started in Jamaica, it was quite rough. Being in Washington DC has been more positive for me. I have been blessed with a record label and management that most artistes only dream about. While I've been here, I've learned valuable lessons that I don't think I would have learned if I had stayed in Jamaica. I don't want anybody to get me wrong; I really miss Jamaica but all of that nostalgia only makes me more passionate about my writing.
Heike: Since we're talking about management, you've of course found a great management team that's supporting you, pushing you to the next level. What would you say to any young artiste out there who hasn't found that yet – how to go about it?
Ruth: Well, I would just tell them not to rush. I mean, if it's meant to come to you, it will come to you. I didn't go out there trying to find a manager or the record label. I wanted them to come to me because I wanted the perfect match so I was just being patient and wait until the strings were pulled in the right way so I wouldn't tell them to go and rush it.
Heike: So there you go, there you have it. I wanted to ask you why did you choose Washington DC as your base or your second home?
Ruth: Well, I didn't really choose Washington DC, you know? I... after I met Ric Zheron and started working with Bran-Nu Entertainment, I chose here because that's where the label is based and I think that if people are making music...
Heike: Oh ok...
Ruth: Yea, that's where they're based so that's why I just, you know, came here because we could be near to each other. It would be more convenient and more comfortable to work on music.
Heike: So is there a big Reggae scene in Washington DC?
Ruth: I wouldn't call it a big Reggae scene. I mean, there are a few Reggae artistes here and we have clubs that are dedicated to live Reggae music but I wouldn't call it like, real big... yea.
Heike: Where do you still want to go in your career? Where do you see yourself going? Is there some sort of ultimate goal?
Ruth: I would say my ultimate goal is to give something meaningful back to this world. I mean, I've gotten so much from the world and I just want to contribute positively back to the world and music is just one of the many ways by which I can achieve that so that's all I can say where my ultimate goal is…
Heike: I also mean what do you want for yourself and for your music?
Ruth: I mean, I want what every artiste wants for their music – for it to go over all boundaries, reach as many people as possible... I mean, positively affect people, inspire people, make people happy. That's what I want – all over the world. I mean, I'm not craving riches and I know that's cliché, most people say that but that's how I feel. I just want to give people a positive experience with my music.
Heike: I like that but one way to get the music out is an album and your label is about to release an album. Is that right?
Ruth: Ah, it's ready and waiting to be released but yea, in the meantime though, I have a five-song EP available on I-Tunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and E-Music and anyone wanting to get my songs can download them from my website at www.ruthabrown.com.
Heike: Alright, there you go. You can check out www.ruthabrown.com. Check out her music; check out everything about her. Talking about the album now, tell us a bit more about it. Is there... what is the date when it will be released? Do you know that already and what is it really all about?
Ruth: Well, you know, there are quite a few love songs. We haven't put the album…like selected all the songs to be released on the album because I... I have quite a few songs that we could choose from so I can't really say the album is about this or that.
Heike: Are there any other newsworthy things that I am not aware of or that the people... other newsworthy things that you want to share with us or that your fans out there... or your future fans.
Ruth: I can tell you a few newsworthy things that I think I should mention. You might not know that I have obtained licensing deals with Air France as well as a Kenyan airline and an Austrian airline. They have been playing my music. The video 'Unfamiliar Feelings' was at the number one spot on several TV charts in Jamaica for a few weeks. I've been featured in and on the cover of several print media and I've done several performances including a historic show at The Mansion at Strathmore in Maryland. I was the first Reggae artiste to be booked at that prestigious venue so I think that's very newsworthy. My most recent performance was at a basketball game in Virginia where I was given the honor of singing the American National Anthem.
Heike: Ok, wow.
Ruth: Yea, and I think that's quite newsworthy. There are a few more things but I also... I'm in talks with an international athletic-wear company that is considering to offer me an endorsement deal so that's just a few of the things.
Heike: Well, all the best for that. Besides the website www.ruthabrown.com, the people where else they can check you out online.
Ruth: Yea, I'm on Twitter. My Twitter username is ruthabrownmusic so link me at Twitter @ruthabrownmusic. On Facebook, it's www.facebook.com/ruthabrownmusic. Yea, and I think MySpace is a bit outdated so I won't include that.
Interview by Heike Wollenweber (Axes Magazine)|
(Please do not reproduce without permission)