"That's what my income tax says," she said. "I've been a full-time musician since 1996."
But she didn't start out as a blues musician.
"I was really in the folk realm for a while," Foster said. "We sang nothing but folk festivals for a while -- we still do a lot of them -- but then I got an electric guitar."
She said she mostly just plays her acoustic guitar, but there's an electric guitar in her band. People these days call her a blues artist, but it all seems about the same. It's just life.
Foster spends a lot of time on the road. She's always thought of herself as a songwriter who needed time and space away from the road to write, but she's learning.
"I'm trying to write a little on the road since I've got access to this band," she said.
It's an adjustment. In the meantime, there are plenty of songs out there for her to sing. Foster's latest record, "Let it Burn" has a couple of new songs from her and a bunch of covers from everyone from Johnny Cash to Adele.
The record provided her with some creative breathing room. Foster didn't play on the record. She focused entirely on her singing.
"My whole job with this record was to sing and try and channel different people," she said. "Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones, Mavis Staples. I really looked to Mavis a lot."
It was good to have the break. Foster has a new life she's embracing. A year ago, her partner gave birth to a baby girl.
It's cut into her creative time, she acknowledged, but Foster is fine with that.
"When I'm home, I like to be home," she said.
Ruthie Foster performs on May 20 as part of that weekend's free Charlie West Blues Fest at Haddad Riverfront Park. Read more about the festival in the May 17 gazz.
Reach Bill Lynch at ly...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.