Musician takes to the stage one week before turning 90

Singer Ruth Allen, 89, performs at a one-off show at the Canyon Theatre Guild in Newhall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The Canyon Theatre Guild presented “You’re Never Too Old: The Life and Tunes of International Entertainer and Composer Ruth Allen” in Newhall on Sunday.

As musician Ruth Allen took to the stage, her son-in-law Charles Garside asked Allen about her life between songs. She was joined by her brother and London jazz pianist Alan Berry, as well as The Ruth Allen Ensemble, performing 30 original songs, including “Who Needs Spring,” “You Took the Time,” “Knock on Any Door” and “Be a Little Devil,” among others.

This celebration of Allen’s life comes before her 90th birthday on Jan. 20.

“It’s amazing, actually,” she said. “I’m very grateful to God. I thank Him every day for giving me a voice to start with, because I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, really. At various places, it’s taken me to a lot of places.”

Born in London, she began singing during the London Blitz in World War II. With the war behind her and under the stage name “Ronnie Graham,” she toured Europe and met Billie Holliday in Paris, according to her website. She later moved to the United States and started a family, but her career continued.

She recalled trips to Berlin before and after the Berlin Wall was brought down.

“I went across there, I was curious to see what East Berlin was like,” Allen said. “Took the bus, the Russian bus, from (Checkpoint) Charlie. They had mirrors under the bus to make sure there was nobody hiding. It was horrible, but it was interesting, too. But when I went back, it was all down and I just walked across. It was a hell of an experience, really.”

A Valencia resident, Allen volunteers every week at Sunrise at Sterling Canyon and performs periodically at Larsen’s Steakhouse with her daughter, Beth.

She said that while she never dreamed of living to reach 90, she hopes other seniors will embrace their talents and take to the stage.

“Just go for it,” she said. “Go for it. You never know until you try. Once you get out there, you find out everyone’s having fun with you, that’s the main thing, or they envy you like mad. But I’m very fortunate, really, at nearly 90.”
To learn more about Allen, her music and her career, go to  

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