Ruth Brown, the Grammy and Tony award-winning singer, is on life support at a hospital near Las Vegas, according to a report in the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Family members contacted Friday did not want to discuss Brown’s condition but did not deny the report. The newspaper reported that Brown, 78, has been in intensive care at a Henderson, Nev., hospital for several days under an assumed name. She suffered a stroke in 2000 and wrestled with other health conditions that occasionally made her cancel performances.

Brown, originally from Portsmouth, Va., became a blues star in the 1950s, with “Teardrops From My Eyes” as her first No. 1 hit. Brown was so successful that her label, Atlantic Records, was once known as “The House That Ruth Built.” Brown later became pivotal in fighting for royalties music companies owed artists. “Miss Rhythm,” as she was crowned, faded from view in the mid-1960s.

Comedian Redd Foxx helped her re-emerge in the late “70s, after she worked as a domestic servant, cook and bus driver.

Brown came back hard in the 1980s, appearing in John Waters’ “Hairspray ” and winning a Grammy and Tony in 1989 for “Blues on Broadway ” and “Black and Blue,” respectively. She was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Brown has lived in Las Vegas on and off since the 1950s. She settled in Henderson, Nev., in the mid-1990s.

Despite her stroke in 2000, she retained her upbeat and spunky character in public. In May, she appeared at a blues festival in Portsmouth named for her, and she garnered giggles at the Portsmouth Notables banquet that honored her and Missy Elliott, among others. “I’m so happy to be here,” the keynote speaker told the crowd. “And if I get lucky, Missy will give me a new record.”

(c) 2006, The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.).

Visit Pilot Online, the World Wide Web site of the Virginian-Pilot, at

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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Ruth Brown

AP-NY-11-11-06 1318EST

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