She was Bertha Bearden Dorsey from Jackson, Tennessee. Country music fans got to know her
by her stage name, Ruby Falls. It has been written in several sources that she was among
the most successful black female country music singers. But from our research so far, seemingly very
little was written about her. But we will at least begin to document her career from what we have
been able to find.
She began singing at a young age, in church or at local events. When she was a teenager, she
moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She actually became a professional entertainer at that time and
worked with several local bands including Harvey Scales and the Seven Sounds as their lead singer.
By the late 1960's, Charley Pride was beginning to take the country music world by storm and providing
perhaps a glimpse of opportunity for other black country music performers to be seen and heard.
In 1974, Ruby moved back to Tennessee - to Nashville. Her talents were recognized and soon found
herself touring with Justin Tubb. Her ability to entertain audiences was well received, even in
Las Vegas. She was discovered by Johnny Howard who signed her to a recording contract with the 50 States
She was nominated as country music's most promising female vocalist in 1975.
In 1977, Ruby released "Do The Buck Dance", written by Charlie Fields and Donald Riis and produced by
Johnny Howard and Chuck Fields. In October of 1977, her tune "You've Got To Mend This Heartache" was number
40. On the same chart, Charley Pride was No. 3 with "More To Me".
Billboard magazine reported that on July 14, 1979, Ruby and her band entertained at the Nashville 420
Grand National where she performed the Star Spangled Banner before a crowd of 18,000. Waylon Jennings
was also on the bill. The race was broadcast on the Performance Racing Network.
In October 1980, she released "Bringing Home That Feeling", written by Ray Griff and produced by Johnny Howard
and Charlie Fields.
She was managed by the Atlas Talent Agency in Nashville; Haze Jones was its president at the time. Around
1981 or so, they were booking what was termed "mini packages" that would feature a Grand Ole Opry or
Hee! Haw! star accompanied by two other lesser known acts. Ruby toured with Justin Tubb and Doyle Holly
and the Vanishing Breed during this time. She also worked with other country stars such as Faron Young,
Jeannie Pruett, Del Reeves, Narvel Felts and Dave and Sugar.
According to Pamela Foster, her television appearances included such shows as The Ralph Emery Show, Nashville Today, Good Ol' Nashville
Music and Music Hall America.
Ruby died suddenly at the age of 40 of a brain hemorrhage in Nashville. She was survived by her mother,
Lillian Hightower and two daughters. No mention was made of whether she was or had married.
Credits & Sources
- Billboard Magazine; February 26, 1977; Billboard Magazine; Cincinnati, Ohio
- Billboard Magazine; October 29, 1977; Billboard Magazine; Cincinnati, Ohio
- Billboard Magazine; August 11, 1979; Billboard Magazine; Cincinnati, Ohio
- Billboard Magazine; November 21, 1981; Billboard Magazine; Cincinnati, Ohio
- Billboard Magazine; July 12, 1986; Billboard Magazine; Cincinnati, Ohio
- Definitive Country; Barry McCloud and Contributing writers; 1995; The Berkley Publishing Group;
New York, NY