2020 has a been a heck of a year. Fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, racial injustices, an international pandemic, and a highly contested presidential election. Time has eerily stopped for many in the music industry as their lives have been put into turmoil. Live music has come to a standstill.
It’s times like these when we can find comfort in the breadth of an artist’s work. Luckily for us, on the night of January 26, 2019, Ruthie Foster recorded a concert that for many would be a lifeline to live music in 2020.
On the 105-year-old stage of Austin’s grand-dame Paramount Theater, she fronted a guitarist, keyboardist, bassist and drummer, ten horn players, three backing vocalists and one conductor. The recorded result was Live at the Paramount, featuring Foster with the Ruthie Foster Big Band, released in May, right as the pandemic was gaining momentum.
While touring has come to a standstill, Ruthie hasn’t. In the past few months she has participated in numerous fund-raising livestreams, for groups such as HOME (Housing Opportunities for Musicians and Entertainers), the Biden-Harris campaign (an event titled Women Artists and Icons), and HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians); Live From the Paramount itself was a benefit for the shutdown iconic theater. She has also taped a new episode for Austin City Limits that will air early next year as part of the show’s upcoming season 46 on PBS.
Ruthie has been nominated for a Best Blues Album Grammy three years in a row. This year finds Live at the Paramount nominated in the Best Contemporary Blues category, And those nominations would be in addition to her seven Blues Music Awards, three Austin Music Awards, the Grand Prix du Disque award from the Académie Charles-Cros in France, a Living Blues Critics’ Award for Female Blues Artist of the Year, and the title of an “inspiring American Artist” as a 2018 United States Artists Fellow.
The Grammy Awards will be presented in a ceremony televised by CBS on Sunday, January 31, 2021.