Ann Ruckert passed away on Saturday evening, Oct. 11, 2014, at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. The cause was complications from a stroke. She was 75.
Ann was born on March 12, 1939 in Queens. She studied music at Juilliard, New York University and London's Royal Academy of Music.
In the 1960s, Ann launched her career as a top jingle and studio singer. In the 1970s, while living in England, she worked as backup singer and sometime musician with the British rock bands T. Rex and the Strawbs. She also sang backup for Aretha Franklin and the punk band, the Plasmatics.
Ann served as music coordinator for the films Lovesick with Dudley Moore (1983), Housesitter with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn (1992) and Boys on the Side with Whoopi Goldberg (1995). In 1999, Ann, along with Marvin Conan and songwriter Brian Muni, founded the 13 Stories record label.
Later, Ann’s career shifted to the role as educator and activist for the music industry. After joining NARAS in 1975, Ann helped spearhead Grammy in the Schools, a program that brings music professionals into high schools to teach and offer career advice. She was a longtime trustee of the Recording Academy, which presents the Grammy Awards.
For over twenty years she served on the board of Jazzmobile, an educational outreach program that brings jazz concerts into neighborhoods worldwide. In connection with the Songwriters Guild of America, Ann founded ProShop, a workshop that enabled fledgling songwriters to play their work for established professionals.
She worked actively for and was on the board of World Hunger Year; and in conjunction with the Jazz Foundation of America, she initiated a program to send musical instruments to New Orleans musicians whose homes were decimated by Katrina. In 1997, the Songwriters Guild of America gave her its Presidents Award for her longtime service to the Guild and its members.
The National Music Council honored Ann with its 2010 American Eagle Award for her contributions to music education. Fellow honorees that year included Suzanne Vega and Kenny Rogers. For the past dozen years, Ann led a monthly songwriters' circle at the Red Lion in Greenwich Village.
Ann was also a staunch patron of civil rights causes. She participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. Ann was a founding sponsor of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, and a patron of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Ann was married once, in 1959, to the jazz trumpeter Burt Collins. They were divorced in 1972. Ann is survived by three sisters: Susan Owens (of Orleans, MA), Jane McLean (of Atlanta, GA) and Martha Williams (of Orleans, MA). She has an adopted son, Jason Sanchez (of Kissimmee, FL).
A memorial is planned in the near future. Check this page for more information at a later date.