The Center for the Arts is pleased to present Ruthie Foster with opener Royal Wood in the Marisa Funk Theater on April 29, 2023. We’ve all been in need of some healing in recent times, and Foster’s latest album provides a guide for how to move through the world with equal parts compassion and resolve. Healing Time is Foster’s ninth studio album and represents a new high water mark for the veteran blues artist—a collection of songs possessing pure power, like a tidal wave of musical generosity. Healing Time finds Foster pushing her boundaries as a singer and songwriter more than ever before, creating a truly live-sounding atmosphere with the help of her band, who sound refreshingly loose and lived-in throughout these 12 songs.
Ruthie was born into a gospel-singing family in Gause, TX, and knew early on that music was her path, while singing in choirs and studying music and engineering in college. Eventually, she joined the Navy and sang in the Navy band throughout the southeastern U.S. and post-duty in local folk venues in New York City. Holding to her desire to play strains of American roots music that she grew up on, her determination and clear vision led her to turn down an Atlantic Records deal and take the independent route, self-releasing her first album Full Circle, the success of which paved the way to a long relationship with the record label Blue Corn Music.
Healing Time is the latest jewel in Foster’s accomplished 25-year career, which includes multiple Grammy nominations and collaborations with fellow luminaries like Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks. For her latest, Foster contributed more to the writing process than she had on any of her previous albums, effectively refining her own songcraft in the process. “With this album, I dug deep and tried to go for the best way to write,” she explains. “This album says a lot about the period we were making it in, and how I wanted to find my way out of it.”
Work on the album began in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, as Foster enlisted previous collaborators like Gary Nicholson and Grace Pettis to pitch in during the writing process—as well as every member of her band. “I wanted my band involved in the entire process of this album,” she explains, and they also played a large role in recreating the sound that Foster had become drawn to after spending time with her vinyl collection. “I was aiming to keep these songs sounding like they came from that era, which says a lot about where I am in my life, too.”
Veteran producer Mark Howard (Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams) brought new ideas to Foster’s table; “Mark’s ability to turn a song’s arrangement upside down was intriguing and sometimes challenging for me,” she states. “It was a lot to wrap my head around, but he made me think outside of the box I didn’t even know I was in.” Producer Dan Barrett, who also worked with Foster on 2017’s Joy Comes Back, then took the helm along with several Black Pumas members, Barrett brought in a collection of Austin’s finest backing musicians, like Glenn Fukunaga (The Chicks, Shawn Colvin). Foster states, “This combination gave these songs a breath of fresh air, and it all came together very organically.”
Healing Time is ultimately a work that explores such extremes as being human often brings to the surface, reminding listeners that even when we feel like we’re at the top, we’re ultimately still finding our way—a beautiful reflection of the essence of living itself.
Canadian singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Royal Wood joins Ruthie Foster for an opening performance to this wonderful night of music at The Center for the Arts on April 29, 2023. Ruthie Foster’s performance is part of the New Songs Fest: three days of songwriting workshops and evening concerts at The Center for the Arts. Learn more at https://thecenterforthearts.org/new-songs-fest-2023/.
Since 2000, The Center for the Arts, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization, has grown into a leading presenter of music, dance, theater, comedy, literary and visual art, and family programming, offering more than 150 events per year from its location in downtown Grass Valley. The Center recently completed a major renovation of its multiuse, 21,000-square-foot facility in downtown Grass Valley, making it a premier performing arts destination. The venue includes the Main Stage, which accommodates up to 492 guests in configurable theater seats and up to 700 patrons for dance shows, and a 90-seat studio theater.