Om Ruth Brown
The incredible Ruth Brown helped create R&B, and she rode to the top of the charts during the 1950s. Brown had wanted to be a jazz chanteuse, so she brought a level of sophistication to her powerhouse R&B and scorching blues. She never saw most of her profits, and ended up cleaning houses when rock took over. But in the late '70s, her career slowly built up momentum again. A master entertainer, she has found work on TV, film, and radio. Yes, that was Brown as the funkily wise record store owner in Hairspray.