Ruby Wilson, the blues, soul and gospel singer known as “The Queen of Beale Street,” died Friday, her manager said. She was 68.
Rollin Riggs, a partner at Resource Management Group, said Wilson died at a Memphis hospital. Riggs said she suffered a massive heart attack the previous Saturday and never regained consciousness.
According to a biography provided by Riggs, Wilson was born in Fort Worth in 1948 and grew up singing in her church choir. She moved to Memphis in 1972, and was a fixture at Beale Street night clubs, including B.B. King’s Blues Club, where she had a regular weekly performance.
Wilson recorded 10 albums and performed with Ray Charles, The Four Tops, Isaac Hayes, King and others. She also performed in Europe and Asia and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Wilson appeared in several films, including “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “The Chamber.” She also sang in the choirs of several churches, including Rev. Al Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis.
Wilson had recovered from a 2009 stroke to continue her career, and she had performed at a benefit last week, Riggs said.
“She was an extraordinary ambassador for Memphis, and soul, and R&B and gospel,” Riggs said. “She had an exceptional stage presence that made you fall in love with her, no matter what style she was singing.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.