We gave it a B+
If it takes adversity to make a blues singer great, then Ruth Brown definitely qualifies: Married at 18, she found out her husband already had a wife. On the way to her 1948 Apollo Theatre debut, her car crashed, landing her in the hospital instead. After laying the foundation for Atlantic Records with hits like ”5-10-15 Hours (Of Your Love)” and ”Lucky Lips,” she received only minimal royalties. During the ’60s and ’70s she was forced to work as a cleaning lady to support her two sons. It sounds depressing, but Brown’s equally dramatic comeback — a role in 1988’s Hairspray, a 1989 Tony for Black and Blue on Broadway, new albums, and a 1988 victory in her prolonged legal battle against Atlantic (benefiting other down-and-out artists, too) — provides an upbeat finale. Despite Andrew Yule’s help, Brown’s straightfroward prose doesn’t quite match her onstage charisma. But Miss Rhythm: The Autobiography of Ruth Brown, Rhythm and Blues Legend projects her courage and resilience, which are truly inspiring.