Digital Classroom: Ruth Brown, "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean"
"Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" (1953)
Ruth Brown’s “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean” was a smash hit on the R&B charts in early 1953. The song encapsulates the energy and excitement of African-American music in the first half of the 1950s. This was the type of R&B that Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed played on his “Moondog” radio show, which exposed African-American music to a broad audience of young people. Ruth Brown (inducted 1993) was the biggest female star of the “Big Bang” era of rock and roll, when the music exploded across America. Her popularity helped propel the success of Atlantic Records, the independent record label co-founded by Ahmet Ertegun. Ertegun loved R&B, and recognized the potential of the music to captivate an audience. Brown took elements from gospel and blues to create her own distinctive sound, and Atlantic Records became “The House That Ruth Built.”