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From 6 seconds to signed: Edmonton's Ruth B turns viral hit into a career

Jesse Kinos-Goodin

All Edmonton singer-songwriter Ruth B needed was a little bit of time and a lot of inspiration.

After binge-watching the fairy tale drama Once Upon a Time, the 20-year-old student came up with a line that would change her life: “I am a lost boy from Neverland, usually hanging out with Peter Pan.”

She decided to upload a six-second clip to Vine of her singing those lines while playing a few piano chords. That was in December of last year. In January, she posted a version of the full song to YouTube, which has amassed 2-million views and counting. By July, she had a record deal with Columbia Records, and in November, her debut EP, The Intro, was released.

“I posted it with no intentions,” she says over the phone from her home in Edmonton, adding that it wasn't even a song at that time – just a line. “A week later, it had 84,000 likes and comments from people saying they wanted to hear more. I knew I always wanted to do music, but just didn’t know how.”

Needless to say, she learned quick, dropping out of university, where she was studying political science, to focus on making stripped down, soulful piano-driven music with lyrics that emphasize her storyteller’s imagination.

“Lost Boy” came to her while watching TV, but Ruth B says inspiration can strike her in the most random places, such as sitting on the bus. 

“I was on a bus to school in Edmonton and saw two poor kids get on it, the girl didn’t even have shoes on, and they were just so oblivious to everyone around them, even though everyone was staring at them,” she says.

She turned that into a touching love song about “two poor kids from a really rich city” who need nothing but each other.

“Once I get an idea, songs take 20 minutes to write,” she says. “Once I’m in that place, it kind of just happens.”

A fitting process for someone whose career was kickstarted by nothing more than a six-second burst of creativity.

Ruth B performs at Toronto's Mod Club Feb. 24. For more, check her out on YouTube.