Ruby's Blues (Princess House Records)
Attention D.C.: There's a new blues singer in town. Ruby Hayes is her name. On her new CD, "Ruby's Blues," she interprets smoky urban blues classics - "At Last," "Stormy Monday" and "Since I fell For You" - made to order for her sultry voice with its traces of blues and jazz legends Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith.
First discovered in church when she was 14, Miss Hayes' roots are in gospel, but she has long since crossed over. After her debut at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel's Apple of Eve Lounge in 1975, she joined a blues band called The Exclusives. She now fronts her own band, Ruby and the James Quartet, which delves into the catalogues of greats like Cole Porter and Duke Ellington for standards to which she brings the respect and understanding which should always underlie interpretive license. Such is her passion for her art that Miss Hayes is now pursuing a degree in music at a local university and working with blues master Nap Turner. When it comes to the blues, Miss Hayes is a lifelong learner.
So add "Ruby's Blues" to your CD collection, and if you can, catch Ruby's blues live on Monday at Blues Alley. -C.R. Hodge