Ruby Turner

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Ruby Turner
Ruby Turner singing at Guilfest 2012
Background information
Birth name Ruby Turner
Born (1958-06-22) 22 June 1958 (age 57)
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Origin Birmingham, England
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1985–present
Associated acts
Website Official website

Ruby Turner (born 22 June 1958) is a Jamaican R&B and soul singer, songwriter and actress. She is best known for her albums and single releases in Europe and North America, and has sung backing vocals for others such as Bryan Ferry, UB40, Steel Pulse, Steve Winwood, Jools Holland and Mick Jagger. She has written songs that have been covered by artists including Lulu, Yazz and Maxi Priest.[1]

Turner achieved the rare feat, for a British singer, of reaching no. 1 on the US R&B chart, with "It's Gonna Be Alright" in February 1990. Between 1986 and 1995, eight of her singles appeared in the UK Singles Chart with "I'd Rather Go Blind" being the most successful, reaching no. 24 in 1987.[2] Turner performed at the Birmingham Heart Beat 86 concert,[3] which featured George Harrison; and also sang on BBC Television's Jools Holland's Annual Hootenanny, from 2007 to 2014 inclusive. She has also appeared as an actress on stage, film and television.


Early years[edit]

Ruby Turner was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica,[1][4] and moved at the age of nine with her family to Handsworth, Birmingham, England, in 1967.[1]

Turner came from a musical family as her grandfather sang the lead in one of Jamaica's gospel groups. In the early 1980s, she worked with blues musician Alexis Korner, and in 1983 she recorded with UB40. In the mid-eighties, Turner's major break came when she was asked to sing with Culture Club at the height of their popularity. She received an offer of a solo record deal soon afterward and signed to Jive Records, part of the Zomba Group.[5]

Music career[edit]

Turner achieved her solo recording contract with Jive Records after singing backing vocals on Culture Club's From Luxury to Heartache.[1] She released four albums and a "Best of" Compilation Album over the next few years. Her first solo album Women Hold Up Half the Sky, was released in 1986 to critical acclaim[1] and produced hit singles such as a cover version of the Staple Singers song,"If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)", a duet with Jonathan Butler, and the Etta James standard "I'd Rather Go Blind".[1][2]

In March 1987, Turner sang on the Ferry Aid single, "Let It Be".[6] Around this time she also released the album, The Motown Songbook, on which she performed with Motown and others including The Four Tops, The Temptations and Jimmy Ruffin. In 1988 Turner appeared on Corey Hart's album, Young Man Running on the duet "Spot You in a Coalmine".

Turner achieved a no. 1 R&B chart success in the US in February 1990 with "It's Gonna Be Alright",[7][8] becoming one of the few British artists to top that chart.[9] Four other US R&B chart entries followed in 1990 and 1991, including "Paradise" from the movie Dancin' thru the Dark.[7][8]

In 1998 she recorded the album, Call Me By My Name, with British rhythm and blues luminaries Boz Burrell, Zoot Money, Bobby Tench and Stan Webb. On New Year's Eve 1999, she sang the National Anthem for Queen Elizabeth II, Prime minister Tony Blair and other dignitaries at the opening of the Millennium Dome in London.[9]

Turner sang backing vocals on Mick Jagger's 2001 album, Goddess in the Doorway, and performed "Nobody But You" on the 2002 album Jools Holland's Big Band Rhythm & Blues.[10] In 2007 Turner presented a documentary Shout Sister Shout about Sister Rosetta Tharpe for BBC Radio 2.[11] She sang on Seasick Steve's album, I Started Out with Nothin and I Still Got Most of It Left (2008). In September 2009, Turner released her first gospel music album, I'm Travelling On.[11] Her rendition of "Jesus on the Mainline" appears on a compilation CD that accompanied the book British Black Gospel by Steve Alexander Smith.[12]

On 4 June 2012, Turner was one of the performers at the Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace in London, when she joined Jools Holland on stage.[13]


As an actress, Turner has appeared in productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, Carmen Jones, Fame, and One Love at the London's Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.[1] She appeared in a successful run in the London West End production of the musical Simply Heavenly, which was nominated for 'Outstanding Musical' at the 2005 Laurence Olivier Awards.[11]

Turner has appeared in a number of films, including Love Actually (2003), Reggae Britannia (2011) and Famous Fred (1996). In 2006 Turner made an appearance in Little Britain Abroad, where she played the Sheriff Judy.[14] On 12 October 2007, she appeared as a guest star (as herself) in the BBC One soap opera, Doctors.[1] The episode title was entitled "Raising The Roof". In 2009 Turner appeared in the BBC drama, Hotel Babylon.[15]

In 2011 Turner narrated the BBC Four documentary Reggae Britannia, which chronicled the history of British reggae music. In 2012 Turner, along with Ralph Allwood and Manvinder Rattan, was a judge on the BBC Two series, The Choir: Sing While You Work.[16] In 2013, Turner was a guest judge on the BBC Songs of Praise gospel choir competition.[17] In 2015 it was announced that she would appear as Mrs. Blip in the made-for-TV movie The Land of Sometimes.

Personal life[edit]

Turner has been engaged twice, but not married. “Many women I know, must have a man in their life," she says about it. "They seem programmed to find a man and must get married. Marriage is a priority for them. Not for me. I am not built that way.”[18]

Her parents are separated and her father lives in the USA. Her mother Violetta lives near Turner and sang on her CD I'm Travelin' On.

Turner enjoys badminton and plays at a club.



Year Title UK Albums Chart[2] US Billboard 200[8]
1986 Women Hold Up Half the Sky 47 -
1986 Ruby Turner Live at Glastonbury - -
1988 The Motown Songbook 22 -
1989 Paradise 74 194
1991 The Other Side - -
1992 The Best of Ruby Turner (compilation) - -
1993 Responsible - -
1993 With Love (compilation) - -
1994 Restless Moods - -
1995 The Best of Ruby Turner (compilation) - -
1996 Guilty - -
1998 Call Me By My Name - -
2001 Live in Bristol - -
2005 So Amazing - -
2007 Live at Ronnie Scott's (double live album) - -
2008 The Informer (Jools Holland) - -
2009 I'm Travelling On - -
2014 All That I Am - -

Singles (selected)[edit]

Year Title UK Singles Chart[2] New Zealand Singles Chart[19] US Billboard R&B[7] Label
1986 "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)"
(Ruby Turner featuring Jonathan Butler)
30 3 58 Jive
1986 "I'm in Love" 61 9 - Jive
1986 "Bye Baby" 52 10 - Jive
1987 "I'd Rather Go Blind" 24 10 - Jive
1987 "I'm in Love" (re-issue) 57 - - Jive
1988 "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" - 8 - Jive
1989 "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted" (feat. Jimmy Ruffin) - 41 - Jive
1989 "It's Gonna Be Alright" 57 39 1 Jive
1990 "Paradise"
(featuring Ecstasy of Whodini)
- 36 22 Jive
1990 "It's a Crying Shame" - - 29 Jive
1991 "The Other Side" - - 34 Jive
1991 "Rumours" - - 80 Jive
1994 "Stay with Me Baby" 39 - - M&G
1994 "Living For The City" - 28 - M&G
1995 "Shakaboom!"
(Hunter featuring Ruby Turner)
64 - - Telstar

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Eder, Bruce. "Ruby Turner | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 569. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ "Film & TV Database | HEART BEAT 86 (1986)". BFI. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Ruby Turner Discography". discogs. 22 June 1958. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Biography, retrieved 9 September 2015 
  6. ^ Ferry Aid, retrieved 9 September 2015 
  7. ^ a b c Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 454. 
  8. ^ a b c "Ruby Turner | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Lewis, Pete (April 2008). "Ruby Turner: Ruby, Ruby, Ruby". Blues & Soul. 
  10. ^ Richie Unterberger (8 January 2002). "Jools Holland's Big Band Rhythm & Blues - Jools Holland | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c "Ruby Turner biography". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2009. 
  12. ^ "British Black Gospel: The Foundations of This Vibrant UK Sound: Noel Robinson, Steve Alexander Smith: Books". Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  13. ^ The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert, retrieved 9 September 2015 
  14. ^ Waistell, Joe (25 December 2006). "Little Britain: Little Britain Abroad (1) Episode Summary". Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  15. ^ "Ruby Turner, Film and TV credits". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 January 2009. 
  16. ^ Butcher, David (September 2012). "The Choir: Sing While You Work: Series 1 Episode 5". Radio Times (Immediate Media Company). Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  17. ^ "Ruby Turner : Biography". 4 June 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  18. ^ Ruby Turner: Fame's Not the Turner Prize, retrieved 9 September 2015 
  19. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Ruby Turner - Bye Baby". Retrieved 8 December 2013. 

External links[edit]