Vetrea Slack Ruffin
Rain Down on Me
Heavenly Spirit Music
(release date: March 30, 2019)

By Bob Marovich

Some people celebrate turning sixty years old by throwing a party. Others go on vacation, or buy themselves something special.

Evangelist Vetrea Slack Ruffin celebrated her 60th year of life by releasing an EP.

Rain Down on Me is about twenty minutes of singing by the award-winning gospel singer-songwriter from Alabama and an eight-minute lesson from the pulpit, courtesy of her pastor-husband, Dr. Paul Ruffin.

The two opening song selections are modern and boisterous. “Raise Up Judah” is a conventional call-and-response praise team selection with rigorous instrumental drama, including an opening that features what sounds like the famous four-note riff from James Bond 007 films. “Take Me Higher” is a declaration of faith driven by a funky bass line, hand clapping, and dense synth work.

After Pastor Ruffin’s inspirational sermonette on blessings raining down from Heaven, the musicians and arrangements tone down and make ample space for Vetrea’s vocals. Backed by the treble sound of smooth-harmonizing BGVs, Ruffin seems more in her element rendering the title track, “Into Your Throne Room,” and “Use Me.” Her voice, forged in the fires of traditional gospel, doesn’t require high-octane musicianship to be effective.

Nevertheless, Ruffin somewhat tempers her effervescent vocals, best displayed on her five-star 2010 album with the Ruffin Family, House of Worship, to fit more comfortably within the confines of current gospel radio programming. As such, Rain Down on Me, produced by Ron Rawls, navigates the gap between modern worship music and traditional devotional singing.

In 2013, Vetrea Slack Ruffin was the grand prize winner of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Most Powerful Voices Gospel competition. She is First Lady of Forge Temple COGIC, the Birmingham, Alabama, church pastored by Dr. Paul Ruffin.

Three of Five Stars

Pick: “Rain Down on Me”

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Written by : Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.