Ruth Brisbane, vocalist for the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band, has died in an accident. Information about the circumstances will be added as it comes in. She became famous as a modern incarnation of the classic blues and novelty vocalists of the 1920s. She presented shows focused on the music of Bessie Smith as early as 1971. She balanced a career forwarding jazz and blues projects with another on the theater stage.
She appeared in many Broadway shows including The Wiz, Grind, and Raison, and appeared as “Bloody Mary” in a revival of South Pacific. Off Broadway, she appeared in the long-running show One Mo’ Time, during both, its Greenwich Village and London premieres as well as in the original Paris production of Black and Blue. She also created and starred in her own one-woman show, The legacy of Bessie Smith. She has recorded for many TV commercials and film soundtracks.
She has recorded several albums with Ragtime historian Terry Waldo and was part of several of his productions including Shake That Thing. She is well known at Jazz festivals across both Europe and America, and maintained frequent club appearances at Smalls and other notable venues.
Together since 1973, The Harlem Blues and Jazz Band was formed to take advantage of the wealth of veteran jazz and blues musicians from the classic era who were living in New York City. They celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2013.