Ruthe Foster sings like a force of nature, sliding from bluesy growl to silky vibrato to big, full-throated notes that rock the walls and rattle the rafters.
With his warm baritone and sparkling, effortless guitar, Eric Bibb can seem like the happiest bluesman around — an elegant craftsman, steeped in tradition, exploring and expanding its redemptive power.
Both Grammy Award nominees, Foster and Bibb are among the most distinctive and accomplished voices in contemporary blues. Next month, these longtime friends and collaborators will join forces for a special concert as part of the Edison Ovations Series.
Titled “Thanks for the Joy,” the one-night-only performance begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, in the Des Lee Concert Hall of Washington University in St. Louis’ 560 Music Center.
‘Thanks for the Joy’
Foster’s music boasts a little bit of everything.
Growing up in rural Texas, Foster learned piano from her grandmother and sang gospel with the church choir. She studied classical music in college and completed a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy Band. She honed her craft as an acoustic singer/songwriter, then electrified her sound with elements of soul and R&B.
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For Bibb, the blues were in the blood. The son of folksinger Leon Bibb and the godson of Paul Robeson, Bibb got his first steel-string guitar at age 7 and was soon getting advice from family friend Bob Dylan. (“Keep it simple, forget all that fancy stuff.”) He made his professional debut at 16 and to date has released almost 40 albums, including the Grammy-nominated “Shakin’ a Tailfeather.”
Foster has released seven albums, most recently the Grammy-nominated “Let It Burn.” Other honors include Best Female Vocalist at the 2013 Austin Music Awards as well as the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Koko Taylor Award for female blues artist of the year.
Bibb’s most recent album is “Jericho Road,” which American Blues Scene calls “the liveliest ‘Roots’ album we’ve heard in a long time.” Among the tracks is “Freedom Train,” which features backing vocals by Foster.
“Ovations has needed a blues injection for some time,” said Charlie Robin, executive director of Edison. “Individually, these artists would be more than enough. Collectively, they promise one of those unforgettable evenings we love to share.”
Tickets and sponsors
“Thanks for the Joy” will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, in the Des Lee Concert Hall of Washington University in St. Louis’ 560 Music Center. Tickets are $36, or $32 seniors, $28 for WUSTL faculty and staff and $20 for students and children.
Tickets are available at the Edison Box Office, located in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6465 Forsyth Blvd.; and online, at edison.wustl.edu. The 560 Music Center is located in University City, at 560 Trinity Ave., near the intersection with Delmar Boulevard. For more information, call 314-935-6543 or e-mail email@example.com.
Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors.