Every now and then you pick up a CD
from a solo artist that have you wonder – who is this singer? That was the
reaction the first time we heard
Johnny Ruffin, Jr.
The first CD we received, about five years ago, from this artist was It’s
Not About Me. That CD showcased not only the vocal talents of Mr.
Ruffin, but also his songwriting ability. He has now recorded his sophomore
project, which is the subject of this review, titled The Last Mile.
As we begin to appreciate his music, we learned that he is a former member of
Darryl and Donnie Joy Boyz of
Nashville, Tennessee, and
The Gospel Harmoneers
of Branchville, Virginia. He is a member of
The Brothers in Christ
of Franklin, Virginia. He is also the minister of music at the Mt. Nebo Baptist
Church in Murfreesboro, NC. And, he is a music producer. So, Mr. Ruffin is no
stranger to the gospel music genre.
The CD begins with upbeat "He Brought Me All The Way."
The song immediately establishes that Mr. Ruffin is in his comfort zone
handling songs with an upbeat tempo. In addition, there is a great message of
the power of our Lord and Savior to bring us through whatever life throws our
way. After an on air radio introduction by Bishop J. C. Watford, Ruffin moves
into "I Know He’s Real," featuring Deacon Wallace Benton.
Next, Curtis Chappell is featured on the title song, The Last Mile.
Listeners that really appreciate smooth background harmony will really like this
song. The interaction (and vocal exchange) between Mr. Chappell and Mr. Ruffin
makes for a masterful interpretation of the message being conveyed by this
ballad. And, the song delivers a powerful reminder to all that at some point you
will be comforted with the Last Mile of life.
A teaser of “It Haven't Always Been Ez" (1 minute and 15 seconds),
is followed by "Love Lifted Me." Mr. Ruffin recorded "Love
Lifted Me" with
The Joy Boyz of Nashville
in 2000. It is on the
Joy Boyz' CD Too
Blessed To be Stressed. As a result of this song being added, you
have the Joy Boyz
singing background on Mr. Ruffin’s new CD.
"Thank You 4 Making Away 4 Me," which was written by George Dean
of The Gospel Four,
is the next song on the CD. This is followed by the hymn “I Decided 2 Make
Jesus My Choice.” If you thought Mr. Ruffin was one dimensional in is
vocal abilities, this song proves otherwise. Mr. Ruffin, and the background
singers, really deliver a heartfelt rendition of this song. You just might find
yourself reaching for your handkerchief about two minutes into the song. And,
look out, because even after the CD stop playing you might find yourself humming
Bishop J. C. Watford returns with an introduction to "Never Said A Word."
This song features the vocal talents of Ray Braswell, Jr. Yes, this is the Ray
Braswell that has become one of the most sought after record producers in gospel
music. Together, Ray and Ruffin deliver a message to the world (a standard
interpretation of Luke 23:9) not to be discouraged.
This is one of those CDs that may be
hard to find after a few years. So, you just might want to get a copy now.
Years from now, you will be disappointed to not have added it to your
Overall, the sophomore release from
Johnny Ruffin, Jr. is a good
recording. We give The Last Mile a solid 8.5 out of 10.
To purchase this CD contact Mr. Ruffin. Click on the title to hear a “He
Brought Me All The Way.”