The Ruby Jane Show

Micah Nelson, Lukas Nelson, and Ruby Jane, on stage at Carl’s Corner 7/3/08 

Ruby Jane, a 13-year-old fiddler from Austin, has been playing with Willie Nelson and family at recent shows.  Willie introduced her as “Sweet Ruby,” at the Carl’s Corner show, and her skills are very sweet and very kick-ass at the same time.  She was a crowd pleaser, and plays like someone who has been playing the fiddle a lot longer than five years, as reported on her web site.   And she didn’t just come out and play on the gospel set near the end of the show, either, but she was there from the first strains of Whiskey River until the last strains of Whiskey River. 


Willie gave her lots of opportunities for solos, and she awed the crowd with her skills.  She was great.  See how focused she is in the pictures?  That’s how she was every night; her eyes never left Willie, except to acknowledge the applause from the audience with a smile.  

Born on November 17, 1994, in Dallas, TX, Ruby Jane is one of the world’s premiere junior fiddlers and a fast-rising star in country and bluegrass-Americana music. With deep familial and cultural ties throughout the South, especially Mississippi, where she lived after her birth until she was 12 years old, she now resides in Austin, TX, with her mama, when not traveling as a musician, actress, or model.

Ruby Jane exhibited a strong connection to music as early as age one and began classical violin instruction at age two. At age eight, she was introduced to the sounds of Americana music in Santa Fe, NM, leading to a complete devotion to old-time and bluegrass music. Subsequently, she began old-time fiddle lessons, which included the study of its unique bowing techniques, archaic tunings, and depth of expression. After only six fiddle lessons, she won first place in the first fiddle competition she entered, beginning a run of victories and increasing notoriety that continues today.

She was granted an apprenticeship by the Mississippi Arts Commission at age eight to
apprentice with Charles T. Smith, one of the last great Mississippi old-time fiddlers. For the past three years, she has competed in dozens of prestigious music competitions and performed with many bluegrass and country greats, including Marty Stuart, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Asleep at the Wheel, Rhonda Vincent (“The Queen of Bluegrass”), Mike Snider, Jesse McReynolds, Jim Brock, James Monroe, Carl Jackson and many others.

In 2005, at age ten, Ruby Jane acted in her second film, contributed an original song to a film soundtrack, performed as the youngest invited fiddler in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, played at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop three times, and won the National Beginners Fiddle Championship (which ranked her first nationally under twelve). She was also a subject of artist James Patterson’s state-commissioned, permanent photography exhibit at Mississippi’s Jackson International Airport; her image hangs alongside Eudora Welty and Marty Stuart. Also in 2005, she won Second Place on the mandolin in the National Beginner Country Musician Competition, performed and modeled clothes for Project Alabama in New York’s fall fashion week, and won a second consecutive First Place in her category at the TN Valley Fiddle Convention in Athens, AL. At the 2005 International Bluegrass Music Association convention, she was invited to perform as “Kids on Bluegrass”.  IBMA invited her again in 2006 and 2007.

Ruby Jane is featured in a documentary about her legendary fiddle instructor Jim Brock. She also contributed to the film’s soundtrack. In October 2005, at age 10, she won First Place in her category and then won the Fiddle-Off at the Mississippi State Fair Southern
Championship Fiddle Contest, establishing her as the Mississippi State Fiddle Champion of 2005 for all age groups. She was the youngest state champion in the competition’s history.

In 2006 alone, media outlets and programs including the CBS Evening News, American Airlines In-Flight “Eye on America” News, Christian Science Monitor, W magazine, British Vogue, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and award-winning publications in Russia and Australia have featured stories about Ruby Jane. Selections from her eponymous first full-length album are played on bluegrass radio in the United States, Canada, and the Australian Radio Network while she continued to perform regularly around the U.S.A consummate performer, when asked what to identify a single highlight of 2006, she mentioned playing on stage with Marty Stuart at “Marty’s Late Night Jam at the Ryman.”

For more information about Ruby, visit her websites (she has three): 

Leave a Reply