Ruthie Foster, a prodigiously gifted singer/songwriter who mixes contemporary folk with old-school gospel and blues, will return to the Strand Theatre, 345 Main St., Saturday, April 10 at 7 p.m.. Foster has been to town a few times, including a visit to the Strand last fall and an appearance at the 2008 North Atlantic Blues Festival.

Foster’s powerhouse vocal presence has drawn comparisons with Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald. From her beginnings in the Brazos Valley of Central Texas, Foster has charted her way with talent, faith and determination. There are Southern blues in her groove, rock in her rhythm and a blend of gospel redemption, country poetry and jazz elegance in her singing.

Foster made her performance debut at age 14 as a soloist in the choir her uncle conducted. After moving to Waco to attend McClennan Community College, she mixed classes in music and audio engineering with visits to clubs at night. After a while, she was fronting a blues band in biker bars and other venues from Dallas to San Antonio.

Stepping back to regain a little real-world perspective, Foster joined the Navy but even there, music tracked her down. At a Christmas party for her helicopter squadron, she sat in with the band to sing a few choruses of “Red House” and it was a short step from there to being signed up by Pride, a Navy ensemble that played the Top 40 and funk hits of the day at recruitment drives, mainly throughout the Southeastern states.

From there, Foster’s path led to New York, where she absorbed more influences by performing at folk venues and collaborating with some of the city’s better songwriters. But heading back to Texas proved to bring her to the place she needed to be to succeed on every level.

Accompanying Foster will be the Family Band featuring two sister Texas musicians, guitarist Tanya Richardson and drummer Samantha Banks.

Opening the evening will be blues jam guitarist, vocalist and bandleader Lydia Warren, offering a preview of the in-between sets solo work she will bring to this summer’s North Atlantic Blues Festival.

General admission tickets are $23, available at the box office, by calling 594-0070 or online at

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to