Thurman Ruth (also Therman Ruth, Thermon Ruth and T. Ruth) (March 6, 1914 – September 13, 2002), who got his start invaudeville in 1927, was a gospel singer, deejay and concert promoter, and a forefather of such rhythm and blues (R&B) producers asRalph Bass. Ruth had organized the Selah Jubilee Singers, a gospel group drawn from the membership of a church choir, leaving it in 1949 to pursue more secular interests in music.
Ruth was a deejay on WOV, a radio station in New York, at a time in the late 1940s when gospel groups such as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Pilgrim Travelers and the Five Blind Boys were touring the country playing in shabby settings with few amenities for the performers. Meanwhile, rhythm and blues groups were becoming so popular that theaters such as the Apollo Theater began featuring highly successful R&B revues. Gospel groups were popular on radio stations but their performances made no money.
No one had yet conceived of combining the power of gospel with the highly charged, money-making revue format of the successful R&B acts that appealed to urban audiences. In 1955, Ruth succeeded in signing a gospel group to play in a commercial theater for the first time in the history of American entertainment. Subsequently Ruth continued to feature gospel groups as a prominent and influential deejay and promoter.