In the Live Music Capital of the World, we’re used to seeing talented players, but rarely do 12-year-old fiddlers pop out of nowhere and cause Texas titans Willie Nelson, Ray Benson and Billy Gibbons to go gaga simultaneously.
That’s exactly what happened when Ruby Jane hit town, though. She wound up touring with both Nelson and Benson’s Asleep at the Wheel, and sharing stages regularly with Gibbons and other stars. Now 17, Ruby Jane — who was 10 when she became the youngest artist ever invited to play the Grand Ole Opry — is releasing her debut album, CELEBRITY (EMPIRE OF EMPTINESS), June 19 on her own Vinyl Records label.
She’s already performed with her own band at Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Festival (for which the Austin Chronicle named her festival MVP in 2011), showcased multiple times at South By Southwest and racked up other accolades like most high-school kids rack up soccer or chess club scores. When she graduates in June from her online high school, she’ll be delivering the Salutatorian speech as the No. 2-ranked student. It’s a safe bet she’s seen a bit more of the world than her classmates and will be able to offer more wisdom than most kids her age. And this summer, she’ll add to her travels with tour stops in Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Finland.
“No two shows are ever alike,” says Ruby Jane
, who likens performing to an out-of-body experience. “They are organic, in-the-moment, improvisational variations. The shows compliment the CD, not repeat it.”
Clearly, the stage is her natural habitat. That’s no surprise, considering that she picked up a fiddle at age 2. Now she’s an accomplished guitarist as well, and features both — as well as her spectral vocals — on CELEBRITY, which she co-produced with Bradley Hartman. She’s coming along as a songwriter, too, as she exhibits in this collection of folk-pop originals (and one notable cover: Wilco’s “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”).
“The songs I’m writing now are my future,” Ruby Jane
says. For a 17-year-old to know what she wants to do with that future is impressive enough. But if she ever needs advice, she’s got a really
impressive list of people to ask.