The Heart Of An Anointed Minstrel
The most anticipated release of the 21st century is here…“All Things Are Possible” the new CD by minister Rufus Troutman. This CD contains 13 of the funkiest songs you’ll hear this year such as: “Shake The Haters Off”, “Just A Test” featuring the return of rapper Cal-G, “Rise Up” and the lead track off the CD, “All Things Are Possible” all of which contain some musical influences of his uncle, the late Roger Troutman. With this album the stakes are raised as the main theme of this CD talks about faith and taking our God-given authority…that we as Christians should not walk in defeat but walk in total victory by speaking what God has said in His Word!!! Shirley Murdock makes a special appearance and is featured on the song, “It’s Over” which talks about after going through a vigorous trial…God has seen you through.
After being nominated for a Dove Award with his first solo project, “No Compromise” and being featured on John P. Kee’s Gold CD, “Not Guilty” success has not spoiled him at all as the focus is still preaching and singing the true unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ed: First of all, I would like to welcome you back to the music scene. Man, there was a big void in the gospel music industry without you! But now you are back with a brand new CD, “All Things Are Possible.” It’s been about 8 or 9 years since your last release, “No Compromise”. Could you tell us what you’ve been doing in-between that time and why it took so long for you to come out with your new project?
Rufus: Well, you know it just took that long for me to die to my stinky flesh. As Christians, when you enter any field of ministry, what God is always looking for is your character not your gift. So many times we get [so] caught up in the gifts that we don’t stop to allow God to deal with our character.
Ed: You don’t have a picture of yourself on the CD cover but instead have someone in blue jeans walking pass a door, showing only their legs, with the name of the album on the door. Why did you decide to go that route?
Rufus: ‘Cause I’m ugly for the most part (laughing). No, pretty much what I like to try to get people to do is think and search because ultimately my motivation for what I do is to, hopefully, introduce people to the Christ that saved me. So, sometimes you have to be willing to put yourself second so that Christ can be seen. Now I know that the industry marketers wouldn’t agree with that because they would say, “You need to Market yourself! Get your face out there so the people know who you are,” and I guess that there is some merit to that…when you are trying to sell you! But when you are trying to promote Jesus---you know there is a thing---the bible makes this statement: “Obedience is better than sacrifice,” so I wonder how many have followed that particular scripture? Now, I have failed that scripture several times, but when it concerns music…as much as I can, and I’m not saying that I’m perfect or righteous and all that in and of myself, but certainly, I try to push Jesus first! So, that was kind of like a long exhortation [to answer] that question.
Ed: Go head preach it!
Rufus: To simply answer the question: I would like to cause people to think about the title of the album before they see who I am.
Ed: What are some of the differences between the two albums, “No Compromise” and the new CD, “All Things Are Possible”?
Rufus: “No Compromise” basically, was just an expression of me being saved---thanking the Lord and doing a gospel [album] because of it. “All Things Are Possible” is more of an album birthed out of the process of what I’ve been through.
Ed: For those who may not know, why do you go by R. Troutman on your albums as opposed to Rufus Troutman?
Rufus: I started using R. Troutman because it would immediately make you think of Roger before you would think of me. My thesis behind that was that I was trying to use a hook to capture the people’s attention.
Ed: Let’s talk a little bit about some of the songs on this new project. You open up with the title track of the CD, “All Things Are Possible” which talks about your faith walk. One of the examples you used was your move from Dayton, Ohio to Riverside, California. Why did you decide to move out west and leave your family and familiar surroundings?
Rufus: Well, I came to California to visit some years back and when I was there I felt the presence of God come upon me, as if this was the place that He wanted me to be for a season. I didn’t really know why, so eventually I took that step of faith---it was a step of faith because it costs too much to live in California. Through that process the song, “All Things Are Possible” was birthed because when I began to take the step of faith---it was scary, I wanted to quit, I wanted to give up---but God proved Himself to be faithful.
Ed: Well I commend you on that, because that was a huge step of faith. I don’t know if I could have done that.
Rufus: Naw, man . . . It’s not for the faint of heart.
Ed: You have a song on your CD called, “I Love My Wife”. Could you talk about how that song came to be and why you felt is was important to be placed on the album?
Rufus: My wife was out of town and I was kind of missing her…and when you’re missing somebody or missing something you don’t have you simply begin to appreciate what you have. So, I was in the studio just messing around and at the same time missing her so the two became one---the time in the studio and missing her became the song, “I Love My Wife”. So, a simple answer is I was just missing her and I began to reminisce on how God has blessed me…as the bible says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies.” You know we hear that but what does that really mean? So, that’s the simple story, I mean, we can preach and then I can take up an offering (laughing).
Ed: How did you meet your wife Jennifer?
Rufus: She worked at a radio station and someone sent her my CD, (“No Compromise”). She heard it and called me in for an interview . . . from there, the rest is history.
Ed: You have four worship songs on the new album and some may say, “Worship songs on a talkbox? I don’t know about that!” But, you pulled it off and did a magnificent job in using the talkbox. In listening to them you can tell that you bared your heart and soul into singing them. Could you talk about your approach to them?
Rufus: First of all, the voice box is just an expression of the heart. There is nothing really special about it…I mean the sound is unique, but it is just an expression of the heart just as the voice is the expression of the heart. So, I think it is as simple as this: when you have a relationship with Jesus and you decide to worship…because I believe that it is a choice to worship . . . when you decide to worship you use the tools He has given you to worship Him. That’s really how it came about. I was sitting in the studio just worshipping and then just expressing it through the voice box as opposed to my regular voice. ‘Cause if I used my regular voice not too many people would buy it (laughing).
Ed: There is a song on the new project that features Shirley Murdock called, “It’s Over” and it is kind of reminiscent of the style of songs Roger had with Shirley. Could you talk about what you wanted to capture in this song.
Rufus: My aim and purpose for this song was to reach people who had just been in a trial---being in the process of life---they’ve come to a place where they’re tired of going through it, tired of reminiscing over it and I felt that Shirley had such a voice of authority that she could speak and make it happen . . . especially to the women that are going through. Shirley has been around for about 25 years or so . . . when people hear her, she just comes off as being more believable.
Ed: Lyrically you’ve grown leaps and bounds and that’s not to say that your last CD was bad, because it wasn’t. It was one of the hottest CD’s of 2000. But how do you account for this growth spiritually?
Rufus: Oh, Man! There is only one-way and I would call it: ‘The Wilderness Experience!’
Ed: Who do you like as preachers and why?
Rufus: Jimmy Swaggart and what I can admire about him is that he is still preaching the cross of Jesus Christ, the blood of Jesus Christ and redemption through Jesus Christ. While that’s the basic gospel I’m sad to say that you really don’t hear that a lot coming across most of the major Christian networks or outlets. What you mostly hear is: harvests, seasons, and blessings. While I believe there’s a place for that, it’s not the centralized heart of the gospel. The gospel is the cross of Christ and the blood of Jesus, redemption, the atonement, what Christ has done for us, healing through the atonement, and baptism of the Holy Spirit. You don’t hear that type [of preaching] anymore.
Ed: In the process of putting an album together what part of the recording process do you like the best, from writing, arranging and engineering?
Rufus: I would probably say the music, which I guess you would call arranging, producing, and production of the music. That’s always the easier part for me.
Ed: Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Rufus: Certainly, my uncle (Roger) was an influence. Before I was saved I would say: Babyface, George Benson, and George Duke. I’m kind of old school…George Clinton, a lot of George’s man. As far as Christian artists I would say: Richard Smallwood, Daryl Coley, Commissioned, I even like what Tye Tribbett is doing musically.
Ed: What are some of your hobbies?
Rufus: Man! My hobbies are: watching movies, being in the studio, and taking my daughter to arts and crafts.
Ed: Let’s hear a little bit about your background. At what age did you discover that you had a love for music?
Rufus: You know I still haven’t figured that out yet ‘cause if I can get out the studio…I will (laughing). But I would probably say at seven or eight years old.
Ed: Did Roger teach you how to play the instruments you now play and if so, what was the first instrument you played?
Rufus: The very first instrument I learned to play was the saxophone, which I still play…A lot of people don’t know that. Then, I would say the keyboards, harmonica, and guitar. I took lessons to learn how to play the guitar---but mostly I play by ear. Roger trained me mainly to play the talkbox and to make records. When I say make records [I mean]…not so much the musical, but the technical aspects of putting a record together in the studio.
Ed: What type of person was Roger in aspects of teaching music?
Rufus: Roger was a light-hearted fun person to be around. Always encouraging.
Ed: What did you think Roger saw in you that made him take you under his wings?
Rufus: You know, I don’t know exactly. I guess I would say because I used to live with Roger, so it happened by default.
Ed: In what year did you play for Zapp/Roger and what did you learn from that experience?
Rufus: I got with the Zapp Band in 1986 and I played with them until I got saved which was about 1993. What I learned from that [whole] experience is that you want to sound like the record when you do a live show.
Ed: ‘Cause if you don’t you’re in trouble.
Rufus: Right, Right.
Ed: Upon receiving salvation you were convicted about playing for the Zapp Band. How did Roger and the rest of the family take it, that you would no longer play with them?
Rufus: Well, actually, it wasn’t received well at first. So, it was a lot of ‘hateration’ is what I’d call it. However, over time they eventually came around.
Ed: Talking about salvation, how did you receive Jesus?
Rufus: For me it was very simple: one Sunday, I went to visit a church and I hadn’t been to church in years. However, the preacher was preaching and at the end of his preaching he asked: “Is there anybody that wants to be saved?” So I said, “Yes me. The guy in the back!” So, I went forward that day and that was it.
Ed: On April of 1999 Roger’s life was taken and some may say, “Oh. I know he went to hell,” but what some may not know is what happened behind the scenes the night before. Could you talk about the night before on how he got saved and filled with the Holy Spirit?
Rufus: Well, actually, he received Christ before that [event]. However, that night before, which would have been a Saturday night because Roger was killed on Sunday morning, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. So, he received Christ a little time before that.
Ed: Do you remember the guy’s name that witnessed to him or prayed over him?
Rufus: You know what, I forgot the guy’s name. He was connected with a pastor in Ohio in which he (Roger) was talking to quite regularly.
Ed: One of Roger’s sons who was also a band member with you (who also passed away prematurely) was named Roger Jr. A.K.A Lynch. Talk about the relationship you had and what you will remember most about him.
Rufus: Roger Lynch was a very talented guy who was fun, silly, and we were pretty close. We were cousins actually.
Ed: Your uncles Terry (Zapp) & Lester are still doing the Zapp thing, keeping the dream Roger had alive. But did they impart anything to you that you can now use in your ministry?
Rufus: They actually taught me---I don’t know if it will make any sense--- how to travel. What I mean by that is, when you go on the road there are a lot of adjustments you have to make, so basically, to be prepared when traveling and how to carry myself as an artist. Even though I don’t like the word artist . . . I’ll use the word minister.
Ed: Speaking of your uncles Terry (Zapp) & Lester I noticed that for their stage presentation they put the talk box on carts on either side of the stage for mobility. Is that something you might also do in the future?
Rufus: What they basically did was put the talk box on something with wheels. Yeah. I might put the talk box on something with wheels but it won’t look that big though.
Ed: On YouTube you can see the legacy that your family has: from seeing old and new videos, performances and fans giving talk box tutorials. Can you give us some of your thoughts on this?
Rufus: From a natural stand point it’s a blessing. I’m honored to see the hard work they put into what they did to make this happen. Because a lot of things they did were independent. I don’t know if you realize this but Roger, for example, in his heyday as you will… didn’t have any videos. So, a lot of his success would just be really from underground independents that just pushed him. So, in one aspect I respect what they did: the hard work, the foundation they had laid, and the unique sound Roger crafted in the studio.
Ed: Now there has been a lot of confusion about the difference between the talk box, auto-tunes and the vocoder. Could you set the record straight about this, ‘cause you’re the one that would know?
Rufus: The talk box is a distinct mechanical instrument. It is something used directly with a keyboard so, you would have more of an authentic sound. Whereas auto-tunes is computer software and is just simply generated by the sound of your voice so it doesn’t sound as robotic as the talk box (Even though some would say that it sounds robotic). But, there is definitely a clear difference. The vocoder in comparison with the two would be in last place. The vocoder is a general instrument used…I don’t know the technical terms, but it is something that you would plug your keyboard into, used through a microphone.
Ed: What is the ministry of Rufus Troutman about?
Rufus: It is basically mimicked out of I Samuel 16:23 and that scripture says, “And it came to pass when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul that David took a harp and played with his hands.” So, Saul was, number one: refreshed. Number two: well. And number three: the evil spirit departed. What I believe is that God has anointed me in this way…because you don’t hear this word as much anymore in the body: the anointing of the minstrel. When I play with the voice box or whatever…the anointing comes in such a way that people are refreshed, made whole, and if they are not saved (they can be saved) and delivered.
Ed: Can we look forward to a myspace page from you?
Rufus: No! There will not be a myspace page. However, you can go directly to my website at: www.rufustroutman.com and that will be it pretty much. There is a facebook page that I have. But, as it relates to the music and what I am doing it will be through www.rufustroutman.com.
Ed: Why did you decide not to do a myspace page?
Rufus: Well, I don’t really particularly like it. I think that it is an irresponsible place for ministers, to use to promote their ministries, simply because one page [can] lead to ungodly pages. And certainly, you can’t control what people do, but you can control what you do and myspace is the type of place where you have kind of limited control. Even though you have what they call ‘friends’, the problem is you can’t control what friends your friends have. So, I don’t want to be responsible for any teenager or young person finding any type of sexually explicit pages starting with my page.
Ed: Wow! That’s really commendable. You don’t hear that too much at all. Now if anybody missed out on your last CD, “No Compromise” is there a way that someone can get a copy?
Ed: Do you have any plans to tour in support of the new CD?
Rufus: I don’t actually have a tour planned---like a traditional tour---but I am planning some concert dates here in California, as well as what I call ministry outreach dates in Ohio. Probably Cleveland, Cincinnati and maybe Columbus. So, we are working to put those together as we speak.
Ed: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a recording artist?
Rufus: A couple of things: I would just simply say first, make sure that it’s the direction God is leading you [into]. Second, prepare yourself in the area He has called you [to] whether it’s production, singing, or ministry. And third, if that is the direction that God has called you, know that it’s ministry and not artistry. While I understand that it is popular but that’s what the world does. The world has artists. God has ministers.
Ed: What do you mean when you say artistry?
Rufus: Well, the world calls them artists and simply the focus…when you are dealing with artists, while being artistically creative, is not wrong. What happens is, in becoming an artist it brings focus and attention to you, whereas a minister brings direct attention to Jesus Christ.
Ed: What would you like the people to know about you that they might not know?
Rufus: Yeah! I want the people to know that I’m black, I’m from Ohio, I love Jesus and please support our album. We are independent and [with] the money we get…we support our prison ministry called, ‘You Are Not Forgotten’. With this prison ministry, we basically send off free CD’s to prisoners who are incarcerated just as a means of hope: a seed of hope in life, to encourage them and let them know that God has not forgotten them just because they are behind bars.
Ed: Thanks for your time!
Rufus: Yeah, man. We finally did it. Talk to you soon.
And The Legacy Continues…
If you have questions or comments e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lillian J. Anderson