Russ Taff

Russ Taff

Russ Taff learned early on that when he sang, people responded. Some of his earliest memories are of being balanced on the church altar by his mother’s strong arms while he belted out a gospel chorus to the rollicking encouragement of the tiny congregation. His trademark rich, emotion-drenched vocals were formed in that fertile environment.

Taff moved to Arkansas in his teens and began listening to popular music for the first time in his life, and found inspiration there, too. Contemporary Christian music was gaining prominence and the traditional lines between ‘secular’ and ‘sacred’ were starting to blur. Russ formed a local band called Sounds of Joy, and began writing songs that combined the spiritual truths of his childhood with the music of his generation.

Two years after his band served as an opening act for the legendary Imperials, Taff was invited to join them as lead vocalist. “I was so green,” he remembers fondly. “But the Imperials handed me the opportunity of a lifetime, and I was thrilled to be able to do what I loved to do and have it count as a real job!” With the Imperials he toured extensively and gained recognition as ‘the voice’ behind the award-winning songs such as “Praise the Lord,” “Trumpet of Jesus” and “I’m Forgiven.” These pivotal recordings successfully completed the group’s transition from traditional to contemporary Christian.

In 2015 Russ was prominently featured in the live concert event billed as “The greatest night in the history of contemporary Christian music.” He joined 32 other legendary CCM artists such as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris in an evening entitled “We Will Stand,” named after Russ’ signature song. The CCM United concert was live-streamed into millions of households, and offered as a CD and DVD package as well.

However you choose to label it, Russ Taff’s music has won him a wide audience and critical acclaim, as well as a total of 6 Grammy awards and 18 Gospel Music Association Dove awards. He has been hailed by Billboard Magazine as “the single most electrifying voice in Christian music,” and cited as a musical influence by artists as diverse as Bart Millard of Mercy Me, Jason Crabb, Michael Tait and the Kings of Leon. He’s been inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame, Christian Music Hall of Fame, and was honored for his lifetime achievements in the industry at the 2012 GMA Dove Awards. Of equal importance, he is quick to add, is the title bestowed on him at the annual RC Cola/Moon Pie festival in his tiny new hometown of Bell Buckle, TN. “I’ll have you know that you are talking to the 2013 RC Cola King,” he says with great satisfaction.

Taff’s musical journey is far from over. Whether looking back at a career that spans three decades, or excitedly looking forward to his upcoming recording project, Russ Taff is the picture of a man filled with gratitude and grace. ”God called me to sing when I was just a little preacher’s kid in Farmersville, California,” Taff says with a smile. “And He’s still calling.”