A Beguiling Bluegrass Classic: 'Ruby'

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  • "Ruby (Are You Mad at Your Man)"
  • Album: Sweet Virginia
  • Artist: No Speed Limit
  • Label: Arhoolie
  • Released: 2006
 
No Speed Limit

hide captionAmber Collins is a founding member of No Speed Limit.

Singer Amber Collins got her start singing at church, but she found her calling in bluegrass. As part of our occasional series "What's in a Song," Collins explains what attracted her to the bluegrass classic "Ruby."

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Amber Collins is only 18 years old but she's narrowed her career choices down to two possibilities: a singer or, her backup, a cosmetologist. But she's faring well as a vocalist so far. She's been performing ever since childhood, though she says it wasn't until she discovered bluegrass music that she found her true voice. Amber says the bluegrass classic, "Ruby," allows her and her band, No Speed Limit, to strut their stuff.

Ruby, therefore, is the subject of today's segment in our What's In a Song series from the Western Folk Life Center.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. AMBER COLLINS (Singer): I'm Amber Collins from Saltville, Virginia, 18 years old. And I play with the bluegrass band No Speed Limit. I hope to be doing this for a long, long time.

(Soundbite of sing, "Ruby")

Ms. COLLINS: (Singing) Oh Ruby, Ruby. Honey, are you mad at your man?

I started singing when I was about 2. I just sang in church and things like that until I was about 8. And then I started travel in competitions and things like that until I was about 14 or 15.

(Soundbite of song, "Ruby")

Ms. COLLINS: (Singing) …shovel with my spade, stick it in the Brown Coal Mine…

My parents really pushed me. You know, it was something I wanted to do, but at one point I sang in a different church every Saturday and Sunday. We went everywhere.

(Soundbite of song, "Ruby")

Ms. COLLINS: (Singing) Ruby, Ruby. Honey, are you mad at your man?

And then I went to a bluegrass jam. Didn't think I liked the music until I got there and it thrilled me and I took to it. So many different things you can do with a song, even a gospel song, in bluegrass and it's accepted.

(Soundbite of song, "Ruby")

Ms. COLLINS: (Singing) I've done all I can do…

There's yodeling and there's the notes that you hold out. You can do anything.

(Soundbite of song, "Ruby")

Ms. COLLINS: (Singing) …to get along with you. Still you're not satisfied…

I feel that song so much. I love that song. I'd say that that's one of my favorite songs that we do just because you can be free with it and it's not wrong. So I guess I'm just the kind of person any kind of song you give me I can find something that'll relate to it.

(Soundbite of song, "Ruby")

Ms. COLLINS: (Singing) Ruby, honey, are you mad at your man?

I'd like to think cosmetology. Other than that, I have no skills besides singing. I mean, that's all I've done in my - almost my entire life. I feel that's what I'm meant to do, whether it be in a church on Sunday morning every week or out here on the road like I'm on now. This is where I'm supposed to be going.

(Soundbite of song, "Ruby")

Ms. COLLINS: (Singing) Ruby…

HANSEN: What's in a Song is produced by Hal Cannon and Taki Telonidis of the Western Folk Life Center.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: This is NPR's WEEKEND EDITION

(Soundbite of credits)

HANSEN: I'm Liane Hansen.

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Sweet Virginia

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Purchase Featured Music

  • Album: Sweet Virginia
  • Artist: No Speed Limit
  • Label: Arhoolie
  • Released: 2006
 

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