A British-Jamaican R&B singer and actress with wide range of credits to her career, Ruby Turner began a successful run as a solo artist in the late 1980s, landing a chart-topping hit with "It's Gonna Be Alright," and releasing numerous respected albums and singles over the coming years that traversed soul, gospel, and pop.
She became a frequent collaborator with Jools Holland and performed with an array of high-profile stars from Mick Jagger to Steve Winwood. As an actress, she landed roles in film, television, and theater including a production of Fame and the hit romantic comedy Love Actually. Her multi-faceted career carried well into the 21st century and she appeared in the 2020 film The Host, in which she appeared and wrote the theme song.
Turner was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in 1958 (some sources say 1962), and moved with her family to Handsworth, Birmingham, England, when she was nine years old. She was an aspiring singer from an early age, and in the early '80s got to work with British blues legend Alexis Korner. As early as 1983, she had appeared on records with UB40, but her biggest early career boost came in 1986 when she appeared on the Culture Club record From Luxury to Heartache, which was virtually the last gasp of the group in its original incarnation. Turner got a recording contract of her own soon after. Her debut album, Women Hold Up Half the Sky (1986), was a critical and commercial success, and she went on to release another 13 albums over the course of the next three decades, including 1989's Paradise, which peaked at number 39 on the Billboard R&B chart. She also charted eight singles throughout the '80s and '90s, the most successful of which was "I'd Rather Go Blind," which made it to number 27 in England in 1987. Turner performed with Bryan Ferry, Steve Winwood, Mick Jagger, and Jools Holland, with whom she had a long and fruitful musical association, appearing on many of his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra albums ever since the group's beginnings in the early '90s. Her reputation as a composer in her own right is well-established, with covers of her songs by Lulu, Yazz, and Maxi Priest. She also successfully covered others' songs, most notably "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)," a Staple Singers hit that she recorded with Jonathan Butler. Turner also topped the U.S. R&B charts with "It's Gonna Be Alright." She branched into acting as well, working in stage productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, Carmen Jones, and Fame, as well as the BBC soap opera Doctors, and the 2003 film Love Actually. In 2015, she released a joint effort with Holland entitled Jools & Ruby, which featured a selection of their favorite numbers from the band's live repertoire, alongside several co-written compositions. The following year Turner was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire for her contributions to popular music. Her next album, 2020's Love Was Here, coincided with her appearance in the film The Host, for which she also contributed the theme song, "Chasing Love." ~ Bruce Eder