17-year-old Ruby Jane is the real deal. Born in Dallas, TX, she is a fiddler, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist bandleader of “The Ruby Jane Show” showcasing her distinctive Americana mix of jazz, rock, and blues. With deep familial and cultural ties to Mississippi where she lived for her first 12 years, she now resides in Austin, TX.
Ruby Jane exhibited a strong connection to music early, and began classical violin instruction at the surprising age of two-years-old. At age eight, Ruby shifted her focus from classical to old-time and bluegrass music. After only six fiddle lessons, she won first place in the first fiddle competition she entered in Tuscaloosa, AL, beginning a run of victories and increasing notoriety as a fiddle prodigy.
Ruby was granted an apprenticeship by the Mississippi Arts Commission to study under Charles T. Smith, one of Mississippi’s last great old-time fiddlers. This began a period where Ruby would compete in dozens of prestigious music competitions and perform with many bluegrass greats, including Marty Stuart, Rhonda Vincent (“The Queen of Bluegrass”), Jesse McReynolds, Jim Brock, James Monroe, Carl Jackson and many others, with Jim Brock becoming her personal teacher.
In 2005, Ruby Jane became the youngest invited fiddler in history to play the Grand Ole Opry, sharing the stage with Opry legend Mike Snider at the tender age of 10. Meanwhile the accolades and awards continued to pour in, with Ruby ranking first nationally for kids under twelve in the National Beginners Fiddle Championship, and Second Place on the mandolin in the National Beginner Country Musician Competition. She was also crowned the Mississippi State Fiddle Champion of 2005 for all age groups; the youngest such state champion in the competition’s history.
Media outlets began to pick up on the Ruby Jane phenomenon, and in 2006 a feature story aired on the CBS Evening News about the then 12-year-old fiddle prodigy. Features also ran in The Christian Science Monitor, W magazine, British Vogue, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and award-winning publications in Russia and Australia. She also recorded her first full-length album eponymously-named “Ruby Jane” and selections were played on bluegrass radio in the United States, Canada, and the Australia. When asked what to identify the highlight of 2006, Ruby mentioned playing on stage with Marty Stuart at “Marty’s Late Night Jam at the Ryman.”
In 2007, she won a prestigious American String Teachers Association ” Alternative Styles Award” while continuing to tour and write original music. In April, Ruby recorded Creekside with Steve Fishell as producer. Ruby played for her biggest crowd ever at the CMA Music Fest in Nashville when Big & Rich invited her on stage in front of a crowd of more than 60,000 for ABC’s July 23rd primetime special, “CMA Music Festival: Country Music’s Night to Rock.”
On July 27, 2007 she received an extraordinary honor in music: the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin at the Mark O’Connor Strings Conference in San Diego, CA. The violin is named for the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered in Pakistan in 2002. Daniel was also a violin and fiddle player.
Ruby Jane made a move to Austin in September of 2007, and began sitting in with Texas greats like Johnny Gimble, Dale Watson, Jim Stringer, and Bob Schneider, Bill Carter, Freddy Powers, and Will Sexton. Ruby joined Dale Watson on stage at Austin’s historic Continental Club her first night in town.
Ray Benson of Asleep At The Wheel discovered Ruby while looking for a young fiddle player for his play “A Ride With Bob.” Ruby joined the cast in early 2008, and through Ray met her childhood hero Willie Nelson during the production of the album Willie and the Wheel, of which Ruby appears on the bonus track. This led to Ruby touring nationally with both Asleep At The Wheel and Willie Nelson in his “Family Band,” and appearing on the Willie and the Wheel performance on Austin City Limits. Ruby also shared the stage with Lyle Lovett, Willie, and Asleep at the Wheel at the grand opening of the Long Center of the Performing Arts in Austin, that becomes the new home of Austin City Limits in 2011.
Ruby’s acting in “A Ride With Bob” inspired her to take acting lessons, and she spent a summer in Los Angeles working with noted producer Zalman King on a TV Pilot for a show called “Swinghouse.”
Ruby Jane’s primary focus now is her own band, entitled “The Ruby Jane Show.” In early 2010 they released Live at Roadhouse Rags, including 9 original songs that highlight Ruby’s prowess as a bandleader. 2010 was busy for Ruby, as she toured France in August with Freddy Powers and the band “Stop The Truck” and then in September at 2010′s ACL Fest, she sat in with Blues Traveler, and then drew over 2,000 people for The Ruby Jane Show Sunday morning performance, being named “MVP of ACL Fest” by the Austin Chronicle.
2011 is the busiest year yet. No Depression magazine named her one of the top five artists to have seen at Folk Alliance in February. At SXSW (she has performed at SXSW for 4 years, being the youngest ever invited) in March, Ruby Jane was named the top pick to see by many music critics, including savingcountrymusic.com. She tours and performs constantly. In August, she will be at Lollapalooza with her band and in September back at ACL Fest in Austin. At 16, Ruby Jane continues to write songs, expand technique, and mature in style. She can be found making music in and around Austin, whether sitting in with bands and performers from across the musical spectrum, or leading her band. She is warming hearts, embracing audiences, and making everyone wonder just where she is bound.