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Rembert student signs record deal with gospel group

Posted: January 3, 2012 3:05 p.m.
Updated: January 4, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Prayer and time management are generally considered to be universal concepts. But for Claflin University senior Justin Rufus, a combination of the two are essential.

By week, Rufus is your average student at Claflin University. The management major from Rembert studies frequently, enjoys meeting new people and has participated in the University Concert Choir.  By weekend, Rufus is traveling and singing up and down the East Coast with his gospel group, Revelation, hoping to catch a big break but most importantly minister to their audience.

This August, Revelation was performing at the Luther Barnes Fall Gospel Classic in Rocky Mount, N.C.  Before Rufus could barely even walk off the stage, his big break had arrived in the form of a representative from Malaco Records, one of the nation’s leading gospel record labels.

A conversation and handshake later, Rufus’ already busy life got a little more densely packed. His group was now signed to a major record deal.

“The journey has been crazy.  We have come a long way,” said Rufus.

The eight-member Revelation’s first album “Revealing the Truth” will be released in mid-February from Malaco.  Rufus became a member of Revelation, led by frontman Roy Ladson, in 2008.  The three years since that moment have been a whirlwind for him.

“Being a part of the group is time consuming -- it’s an everyday thing.  People get it twisted.  You have to be on conference calls, figure out ways to promote the album, do rehearsals just to stay on top of your game,” he said.
Rufus’ brother, La’Quentin Jenkins, a freshman music education major serves as the group’s road manager.

The tandem is a great example of when the prayer and time management that’s so essential to Rufus’ success comes into play.

One time, Rufus and Jenkins left Claflin on a Thursday to go to a gospel festival in North Carolina. Jenkins drove and Rufus studied for midterms in the back seat on the way.  Driving back, a friend drove both of them back to South Carolina the same night so they could study.

That was before Rufus was a signed artist. Now, the stakes and the work that comes with it have been considerably raised.  In addition to homework coupled with an intense rehearsal and performing schedule, Rufus must now deal with recording an album, promoting it and establishing a legion of fans.

The latter part appears to on its way to a successful conclusion. “After the recording, we started to see how our music to effect more people than we ever knew. We started getting calls from people we didn’t know about our group. We’ll see how far it will go. It should do pretty well if the positive feedback we’ve already received is any indication,” Rufus said.

The motive of his career has been inspired in part by the words of University Department of Music Chair Dr. Isaiah McGee.  “Dr. McGee always says ‘If nobody is touched by what you did, then what you did is vain.’”

Rufus has always put his education at Claflin to good use with his group. He’s using his training as a management major to help with the logistical side of the group’s bookings and performances and managing their funds.

Working the business side of the group and money is far from being the most important aspect of Rufus’ burgeoning career.  What he holds most dear is his faith in God.

“Without faith and prayer none of this would be possible,” he said.  “The road is so strenuous and different things are thrown at you all the time.  If I didn’t have faith, then I would never survive in this business.”

Rufus’ main goal is to be successful in the gospel recording industry.  But he has others as well, primarily establishing his ministry, New Me, which is a collaborative effort with different church choirs in South Carolina.  Through New Me, Rufus hopes to empower and educate young children on how to matriculate successfully through school and live a Christian life.

“Being signed to a record deal is good at the end of the day.  However, to have that sense someone has been touched by your ministry, that’s the ultimate goal,” he says.

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