Home > Events, Profiles > Vocalist Nancy Ruth Brings Her Unique Blend of Sultry Sophistication to Hermann’s

Vocalist Nancy Ruth Brings Her Unique Blend of Sultry Sophistication to Hermann’s

May 22, 2009

Victoria’s Latin jazz scene has been pretty hot lately with the advent of TuriyaNancyRuthheadshottn Mareya’s Worldbeat and Latin jazz showcase/jam on Sunday nights at Hermann’s, but it’s about to be turned up a notch or two with the return of vocalist/instrumentalist Nancy Ruth to the bandstand on Saturday night.

Heat may not be quite the right metaphor, however, since Ruth’s latest CD, Me Quedo (Home of Jazz, Netherlands, 2008) shows that her deeply lyrical blend of jazz, pop and Latin, while offering flashes of fire, is decidedly cool and sophisticated in nature, with clearly articulated lyrics and expressive phrasing taking precedence over rhythmic fireworks. This is music with depth, passion, subtlety, and a distinct European sensibility.

Victoria audiences who haven’t heard Ruth for a few years may be a bit surprised by this description since they may recall a talented vocalist who transitioned from rock (heavy metal actually) to jazz back in the 90’s and appeared in a lot of theatrical productions. Just how did she turn into an internationally known Latin jazz vocalist?

The answer lies in travel and study. “I spent a lot of time in Latin American countries in the past 15 years: Columbia, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico; and working with Panamanian composer Toño Robira was a great influence, ” says Ruth, who adds, “I was already working as a jazz vocalist/ pianist during this time but the boleros and baladas were my favourite ‘cousins’ to the standards.”

As well, she has lived the last eight years in Europe, primarily in Spain (she is now a Spanish citizen) where she has been studying flamenco guitar and composing songs that draw heavily upon her flamenco, jazz and bolero influences.

Clearly Ruth thinks this transition was inevitable since she recalls an attraction to Spanish music right from early childhood: “Since hearing the phrygian scale and playing it on my ukelele when I was about 6 (and playing the record ‘Man of La Mancha’ non-stop), I became obsessed with going to Spain.” She also notes that she actually has (distant) Spanish blood flowing in her veins.

Will she stay in Victoria? For a few months, yes, since she plans to promote her new CD in Canada this summer, but clearly Europe and Spain have won her heart despite the challenges of maintaining an international career.

“The hardest part of keeping it all going is the constant travel, which gets to be hard on the body, and is lonely at times, but I love the rewards, too. Europe is endlessly fascinating; the audiences tend to be more conservative but I love their sophistication.”

For the Hermann’s gig Ruth will be backed by a band led by Turiya Mareya, and she also plans to do a show in Sooke on July 4, where she will showcase some of her latest writing that is slated for a new CD to be recorded in the near future.

Tickets for the Hermann’s gig are a mere $10 at the door, a ridiculous bargain for music of this quality. Don’t miss the show and buy the CD that will be available at the gig. Both are highly recommended.

For more information about Ruth and to hear some of her music, visit her website at www.nancyruth.com

– Rick Gibbs

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Categories: Events, Profiles
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