Ruth Brown, known as the “Queen of Rhythm & and Blues”, was born in Portsmouth, Virginia. She attended I. C. Norcom High School and  was a member of the A.M.E. Church choir. Later, Ruth signed with Atlantic Records where she scored numerous hits on the R & B charts in the 50’s. She returned to music in the 70’s to star in television, movies, and Broadway, earning awards as Best Actress in a Musical and Best Female Jazz Performer.

This is part of three murals done of local musicals  by Mandy Smith on the Colony Theater. The other two are; Tommy Newsom and Bill Deal & The Rhondels.

Mandy Smith notes:

This piece was created to evoke Ruth's sense of style through her rich music. Some of the instruments prominent in her music play a part in this composition, with her voice showcased as the dominant presence. The style of the negative space is simplistic with a vintage feel to flow with the other nostalgic panels.

Ruth Brown
Mandy Smith
Colony Theater  430 High St.

About the Artist:

Mandy is an artist/illustrator based out of Yorktown. She received her B.F.A. from VCU's School of the Arts with a concentration in Communication Arts and Design/Illustration. Her specialties include portraiture, murals, design, and book illustration. She considers being a part of this grand artistic endeavor an honor. Art has an inexplicable power to change an atmosphere. Thank you to Supporters of Portsmouth Public Art for this fantastic opportunity and the unfathomable support of my family.

You can view Mandy's work at


Outdoor Art