Soulful Canadian crooner Ruth Berhe, who – as Ruth B – was signed to Columbia Records last year on the buzz she built via her six- second video loops on Vine.
“It was a really confusing thing for me when I first downloaded it,” she says. “I was completely baffled, like, ‘Wow, we’ve gotten to a time in our culture when we can make seconds-long videos that people will actually watch!’”
For the Edmonton, Alberta native — who plays The City today, promoting her EP “The Intro” and an upcoming album — it all started after watching a Peter-Pan-themed episode of the fantasy TV show “Once Upon a Time.”
On a whim, she filmed herself singing the words “I’m a lost boy from Neverland,” posted it to Vine, and was stunned when it amassed 84,000 likes within a week. She expanded it into the skeletal piano ballad “Lost Boy,” uploaded a video to YouTube, and began fielding major label offers almost immediately.
“The first email that I got was from Columbia, saying, ‘Hi, we love your song and we’re really interested,’” says Berhe, 21, whose Ethiopian-immigrant parents influenced her writing by introducing her to that country’s gospel songs as a child.
She adds, “I just couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke or a prank. I was just fascinated that some A&R person had somehow found me and wanted to talk to me. At the time, I didn’t even know what a record label was — I just knew getting to talk to one was a really good thing.”
The keyboardist, who still resides at home with her folks, started setting her poetry to music last year.
“I can’t really recall a time when I wasn’t obsessed with music, doing things with my voice, or making melodies up,” she says. “Writing didn’t enter the picture. But I guess everything happens at the right time, because that was the birth of my song, and the birth of my absolute love for songwriting.”
Nominated in the summer for a Teen Choice Award as “next big thing,” Ruth B thanks Vine for everything. She says, “Because you only get six seconds to either say the most important thing you could say, or just waste it. So now when I write my songs, I give every line the most meaning it can possibly have. Vine has helped me become a more creative person.”
IF YOU GO
Alessia Cara, with Ruth B
Where: Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17
Tickets: $35 to $50
Contact: (415) 776-7457, www.ticketmaster.com