Vetrea Slack Ruffin and the Ruffin Family
Help Me Render Completely
Family-tight vocals and anointed lyricism are two of the qualities evident
on this project from the Alabama-based Gospel group. As one of the artists
on the Unity label, Vetrea Slack Ruffin and the Ruffin Family bring their soulful
expression to the fore on Help Me Render Completely.Producers: Eric Hutton, Cleopha Pair Jr.
album release date: late 1999
Vocally consisting of lead vocals from Vetrea Slack Ruffin, prominent backup from
daughters Lacretia and Angelica, and with the support of an experienced band and
a collective of talented Alabama
recording and church choirs, the vibe to this debut is classic contemporary. The occasional
emphasis on unison vocals is reminiscent at times to the unmistakeable
Clark Sisters sound.
The project kicks off with six studio cuts, followed by eight songs which were
recorded live at the Draper Memorial COGIC in Huntsville. The highlight of the studio set
is "Be Healed, Be Delivered
& Set Free", where the smooth meshed vocals of the Ruffin
threesome combine to foster a cool
groove. The set is also notable for "He's Been So Good", a praise
laid over a killer funk-injected track, and "Then Came The Word" which
successfully relies on that Clark Sisters-ish unison approach.
On the live segment, "This Time" stands out as a showcase for Slack Ruffin's soaring
soprano upper range. Never resorting to vocal flamboyance, she never-the-less frequently
takes the melody to stunning reaches in the context of the message portrayed in the lyric
I'm going all the way in Jesus". The family connections strengthen on
the traditional-etched "Bold Soldier", where Slack Ruffin joins in duet
with her mother,
Vetrea Davidson Slack.
Songwriting on the CD comes from a variety of sources, including Slack-Ruffin
Eric Hutton and Cleopha Pair Jr (who also produce).
There's also two original
compositions from the prolific pen of former CGI/Platinum artist, Eddie James
("This Is That" and "The Anointing"). The latter song features
guest soloist, Stanley Samuel, whose name
may be familiar
to some as lead vocalist for the
Birmingham-based contemporary trio, Trinity (formerly with Jaxvil Records).
tenor pipes contrast
nicely with the Ruffin's vocal work.
As is often found amongst family Gospel groups (see the review
for The Wright Family), the closeness of the family bond shines
through beautifully, with the recording conveying a sincerity of tone, a warmth of heart
and a joyful spirit that is consistent with the Gospel message contained in
Thoroughly enjoyable and quality-infused throughout, Vetrea Slack Ruffin and the Ruffin Family
give the Gospel nation another
gem of a family project. Making the effort to find this low profile release will be worthwhile.
reviewed by Stan North —
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