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Eric Bibb, Ruthie Foster Bringing Crowd-Pleasing Jazz Styles to Performing Arts Series Show

February 20, 2014

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Soulful Singers: Ruthie Foster and Eric Bibb will be featured in the Thanks for the Joy! show on February 21 that’s part of Rose-Hulman’s Performing Arts Series at the Hatfield Hall Theater.

Grammy-nominees Eric Bibb and Ruthie Foster will join forces Friday, February 21, at 7:30 p.m. on Rose-Hulman’s Hatfield Hall stage to present Thanks for the Joy!, a special show that’s part of the institute’s Performing Arts Series.

Bibb has been compared to blues greats like Taj Majal and John Lee Hooker. His musical roots come honestly, being the son of Leon Bibb, an acclaimed singer and a fixture of the 1960s New York folk scene. Leon have Eric a guitar at age 7 and introduced him to such jazz icons as Pete Seeger. Eric’s godfather was actor, singer, and activist Paul Robeson, and his uncle was jazz pianist and composer John Lewis.

It is little wonder that Eric Bibb’s musical creations are as nuanced as the blend of influences that shaped his talent from a young age.

Playing professionally by age 16, Bibb’s early gigs included a stint in the house band for his father’s televised talent show, Something New.

In the ensuing years, Bibb has recorded 35 albums, appeared on countless radio and television shows, and traveled the world. He’s played in venues across Europe, Australia, and U.S—from B.B. King’s club in New York to the Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tennessee.

His music crosses genres from folk to gospel-infused acoustic blues to country. He offers an optimistic spirit in difficult times, marked by the ability to see himself in other peoples’ shoes.

Bibb has been nominated for multiple awards in several categories. In addition to the Grammy-nominated “Shakin’ a Tail Feather” children’s album (with Taj Mahal and Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir), other noted albums include “Friends,” which featured Odetta, Charlie Musselwhite, Guy Davis, and Mahal as special guests, and two collaborations with his father, “A Family Affair” and “Praising Peace: A Tribute to Paul Robeson.”

Meanwhile, Ruthie Foster effortlessly and powerfully blends soul, blues, rock, folk, and gospel. Blues Revue said she sings with a “full-on blast of soul.”

Her amazing voice has taken her from a church choir in rural Texas to a Grammy nomination. But the journey was not without a few bumps and potholes along the way.

After serving a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy Band, Foster ended up in New York City, where a major-label development deal fell apart. Foster then took a hiatus from her musical career while caring for her ailing mother back in Texas.

When she resumed her music career in Austin, she became a regular nominee at the Austin Music Awards, winning Best Folk Artist in 2004-05 and Best Female Vocalist in 2007-08.

Further honing her musical style by incorporating a touch of blues and soul to her folk roots, Foster earned a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album on 2009’s “The Truth According to Ruthie Foster.” She then won Blues Music Association awards for Best Traditional and Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist in back-to-back years—a testament to her impressive range and broad appeal.

Foster has collaborated with a diverse list of artists, including Warren Haynes, Big Head Todd, Bonnie Raitt, and Paul Thorn. She is a regular favorite at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the Monterey Blues Festival, Merlefest, and the Kate Wolf Festival.

Her latest release, “Let It Burn,” is an eclectic collection of cover songs and originals. Foster’s renditions of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” John Martyn’s “Don’t Want to Know,” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” showcases her talent as an interpretive singer.

“When it comes to songs, often older ones, I love it when they find me and that’s what happened with ‘Ring of Fire.’ I put myself inside of that song, which speaks to the passion of a new relationship,” she says.

Her strong roots in the church are evident in offerings such as the original “Lord Remember Me.” She explained, “I haven’t lost my gospel in the way I approach a song.”

Tickets for the show featuring Eric Bibb and Ruthie Foster range from $18 to $22 for adults and $10 for students. They may be purchased online at www.hatfieldhall.com, by phone at 812-877-8544 or in person at the Hatfield Hall ticket desk (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily). Tickets may also be available at the door, starting one hour before the show. 

For complete information on the rest of the Performing Arts Series shows, including artist videos and more, visit www.hatfieldhall.com.