Rufus John
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Rufus John

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | SELF

Cambridge, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2006
Solo R&B Soul

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Rufus John visits The Morning Show prior to his performance at Musiiki - Gobal News


Great news for fans of R&B/soul music: Kitchener-based mega talent Rufus John is making a stop in Ottawa this week while on tour to promote his sophomore album “Gone But Not Forgotten”, as well as a docu-series of the same name about the making of the upcoming release.

“I felt that this was a way to introduce myself to audiences around Ontario,” Rufus John told Bytown Sound in a recent interview.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to get to know me and the stories/influences behind the songs that I’ve written. I want to really feel the energy in the room and be able to connect with the audiences.”

Having grown up listening to a lot of gospel music like Tramaine Hawkins and Richard Smallwood, along with “secular” artists such as Tina Turner, Lionel Richie and Patti Labelle, Rufus naturally gravitated toward a career in R&B. While he’s thrived in this scene, it’s a genre with some specific challenges, he says.

“With my career, there was never a doubt about what genre I was going to do. My concern was more to do with how I was going to make it work in Canada,” says John. He points to the international success of Canadian artists like Drake, The Weeknd and Jessie Reyez as a sign of the incredible potential of the scene, but adds that there are precious few opportunities for other R&B artists to be heard at the national level. He specifically points to Toronto as being home to some “crazy talented artists,” such as Tanika Charles, Slakah the Beatchild and Jully Black, who he counts as inspirations.

“I just wish that one day there will be room for more opportunities for R&B acts within Canada, whether it be on bigger stages or radio play. We have so much talent that needs to be heard but there aren’t many (if any) avenues for our music to pierce through.”

Still, it’s not as though Rufus hasn’t been striving to push the limits of what’s possible since discovering at the age of six that he could sing. He soon went from belting it out in his local church to winning talent competitions after moving to Kitchener at 10 years old, and by the age of 14 he was already penning his own songs and touring as the frontman of a funk/soul cover band while still in high school. Clearly, he is no stranger to hard work or paying his dues when it comes to his craft and his career.

Those experiences culminated in his first album, “Growing Pains,” a 2014 release which he describes as a “compilation of [his] youth”, summing up his life from the age of 9 to the age of 33. His upcoming album, “Gone But Not Forgotten,” marks a continuation of that release; he refers to it as an “honest album,” catching up on his intervening years while blending gospel, R&B, hip-hop, go go, soul, pop and jazz.

“My life experiences are infused with almost every song written on every album I have put out,” he says.

Wanting to provide fans with an even better glimpse behind the curtain, John decided to offer a much more personal live experience as well, and the idea behind “Soulful and Intimate” tour was born.

“I tell my audience that the two safest places for me are my living room and the stage. When I am home alone I will crank my system and sing, dance, laugh and cry. I will let it all out unapologetically – because I am safe and comfortable in my home. On the stage, I do the same. I always show the real me, and these shows will be no different. People will laugh, cry, dance and let it all out! When it’s all said and done, I hope that experience will be enough for people to want to continue to follow my musical journey.”

It’s in that same spirit of openness that Rufus has chosen to reveal his process even further with the shared debut of his docu-series, which shares not only the name of the “Gone But Not Forgotten” album but also development. What started as a simple whim of setting up a camera later revealed footage that he says provided him something tangible that helped him to reflect and learn about his own experience in creating this upcoming release.

“I decided to do the docu-series because I wanted to show people that an anybody can pursue their dreams. Also, I wanted to show people (especially independent artists) the potential struggles and process so that they can see that it is possible to overcome obstacles – don’t give up!”

You can indulge in Rufus’s honest and mesmerizing upcoming performance this Thursday, April 19 at Pressed, alongside Ottawa’s neo-soul group No Fancy Parts and live looping project Already, Already, for only $7 at 8 p.m.

Follow Rufus on his website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to keep an eye out for his new album “Gone But Not Forgotten”, which is due to be released in June 2018, as well as his engaging docu-series of the same name, which comes out April 29. - Bytown Sounds


Rufus John has always been fascinated by the story behind the creative process, be it songwriting or promoting music.

"Growing up we were Seventh Day Adventists," says the Kitchener-based Caribbean/Canadian singer-songwriter. "We would go to church on Saturdays from the moment the sun was up until the moment the sun was down," says John, who went to Perch Avenue Church in Etobicoke, which was known for gospel music.

His mum's cousin was in the choir, and John sat in awe every Saturday.

"I thought, I want to do that. I don't think I can but I want to," says John with a laugh.

He began to sing at the age of six.

"We lived up the street from the church so one day after the church service my mum's cousin came to the house. We listened to gospel music growing up. I knew the gospel tapes and at the time I did not know I could sing. I just knew that I could follow along with what they were singing. I just was doing what I did every Saturday. I would just throw in a tape that I liked and sang along. Then my mum's cousin said, 'Rufus can sing!'

"I remember this distinctively," he says. "I was in the living room and Mum's cousin was in the dining room. I don't know if she knew that I heard what she said but that moment I thought, you're the choir I want to be in. She said I can sing! Maybe I have something here. From that day on I thought I am going to keep trying at this."

Things were not always easy for John as a child. His mother raised three kids alone. But he was surrounded by music and whatever challenge came along "there was always love among the struggle."

John moved to the region when he was 10 years old. He had plenty to write about in his young life and started songwriting when he was 14.

John became the frontman for cover band The Motor Booty Affair — his introduction to funk and soul. "I knew Al Green as a gospel singer," notes John. "I did not know him as a secular singer."

That experience helped him with stage presence, learning to how to lead a band, and direct background vocalists.

In 2002, John decided to go solo. His 2006 debut EP "The Reason" featured a song of the same name dedicated to all single mothers, including his own and the single, "Sex on The Beach," received prominent radio airplay.

In 2014 John released his full-length album debut "Growing Pains" based on his experiences growing up. The singles included, "Hold On Me," (with noted Canadian hip hop artist and collaborator Son Real) and "Confessions," which hit #11 the independent soul charts in the U.K.

John says his upcoming sophomore release "Gone But Not Forgotten" is an evolution from "Growing Pains." The album includes singles "Things That I Said," "Don't Push Me" and "Better by You" dedicated to daughter Joelle.

The album addresses forgiveness, mourning, celebration and acceptance created through an R&B, soul, hip-hop, and gospel music motif. It is mixed and mastered by Guelph's Attila Toth (Joni NehRita). Toth is also producing a few tracks. Other producers include Ian Smith (The Miniatures) who also cowrote a song, Toronto producers/musicians drummer Da-Rell Clifton, keys player Jerome Anderson, and Nate Dawes of Cambridge. Contributing artists include Phoenix Pagliacci (of Toronto hip-hop collective The Sorority, Truss), Kitchener rap artists Tariq Musica, Soul and Justin Hamilton, King the Prophet, plus Toronto's D.O. Gibson (DJ Maestro Fresh-Wes).

The "Soulful and Intimate" tour features John plus special guests, The Woolwich Project at Death Valley's Little Brother, and folksinger Luke Michielsen at E-Bolt music. Other guests on the tour include Kingston singer Shyla and Ottawa neo-soul/jazz group No Fancy Parts.

John is also going to be debuting a docu-series, "Gone But Not Forgotten," — a fly-on-the wall lens into his creative process from working with producers in the studio to spending time with his daughter at home.

Family time is very important to John. It's the reason he became a child and youth worker.

John's childhood home was the neighbourhood "hub" where kids would hang out. Their parents knowing they were always in a safe environment.

"Mum was there and everyone came over. It was cool to live and experience that," says John. "I wanted to continue giving that, and just be available to help and be of service. I wanted to work with children and youth," he adds.

John uses his music as a medium, bridging the gap between youth and elders. His music serves as the catalyst for change, the voice of reason and positivity.

In 2016, he won the Mentor Award at the Waterloo Region Arts Awards.

John created "Music is My Weapon" working with musician Eric Bolton of E-Bolt Music, and producer Attila Toth. It is a free mentorship program and guide to all aspects of the music industry in conjunction with Idea Exchange, Clemens Mill in Cambridge

"I had nobody to help guide me. I made my poor choices and I had certain people in my life that I met. Without them being who are they are when they met me in my life, I would not have come out of the some of the darkest parts of my life," he admits. "I am going to try and be that for everybody." - The Kitchener Record


Canadian and UK R&B/ Soul artist, Rufus John will be launching his Soulful & Intimate concert tour in April, which will hit major cities such as Toronto, Ottawa and more. He will be performing and sharing personal influences and stories behind previous hits, as well as unheard tracks off of his upcoming sophomore album, Gone But Not Forgotten, which is set for release in June 2018. Take a few moments to find out more about Rufus John in our newest segment of Five Questions With.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Rufus John I am an R&B/Soul singer based out of Cambridge, Ontario (about an hour west of Toronto).

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

I would say that my music is a fusion of soul, R&B, jazz, gospel, rock, hip-hop and funk. When I am gearing up to write music for an album I never focus on locking in on one specific ‘sound’ per say. When I put pen to paper the story and emotions behind the lyrics tends to lead where the production is going. Overall, my music always finds an R&B/Soul twist but I go where the music takes me.

As for my writing style, it’s definitely influenced by my life’s journey. Everything I write is rooted in experiences I have gone through or someone close to me has gone through. When I talk about music with youth, I always talk about the message within the music they are listening to. I try to help them identify the background behind the music, what is this person saying and how do you relate to that message? How/why does that message resonate with you? I feel artists have the privilege of having a platform that allows their voice to be heard and the ability to connect with an audience. If people are listening I should at least have something to say and relate to.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

Yes! I have the Soulful & Intimate Tour kicking off in April. I will be going to small coffee shops/ cafes/venues around Southern Ontario, where I will be sharing my music and the stories behind the songs. Also, in June I will be having my CD release parties in Toronto & Kitchener.

Soulful & Intimate Dates:
April 7 | Waterloo | DVLB w/ Woolwich Project
April 8 | Cambridge | E-Bolt Music w/ Luke Michielsen
April 9 | Toronto | Painted Lady
April 18 | Hamilton | Artword Artbar w/ Bonnie Hamilton
April 19 | Ottawa | Pressed w/ No Fancy Parts & Already Already
April 20 | Kingston | Musiikki Cafe w/ Shayla

I am an artist who wears his emotions on his sleeve, so I really leave everything on the stage. I tell my audience that the safest place for me to perform is in my living room when I am home alone. It’s a space where I can dance, cry, laugh, get angry and let loose unapologetically. So I let them that the stage will become my living room and I invite them to come on a musical journey with me.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

I would suggest Hold On Me. As I mentioned I let the music take us where the song goes. That song started off as a reggae song, then one night it took a HUGE turn and it ended up being this old school Country and Western meets R&B and Hip Hop song. It’s one of my personal favourites.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

Tanika Charles, Chad Price, D.O Gibson, Fraction, Janice Jo Lee, Conor Gains. - Canadian Beats


Discography

Gone But Not Forgotten - 2018
Growing Pains - 2014
The Reason - 2006

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Bio

Rufus John, the Canadian-Caribbean Artist from Kitchener-Waterloo Ontario, has been bringing refreshing sounds and vocals to the Canadian R&B/Soul music scene professionally since 2014. His new approach to old soul allows him to embrace the best of the two worlds; the edginess of today’s music and the steadfast emotion of Motown. The result is a funky, fresh sound layered over an old soul backdrop, a slick fusion that can only be described as irrefutably undeniable. He also has managed to successfully encapsulate being a well-rounded entrepreneur, a graduated Child and Youth Worker and an Award Winning Youth Mentor in his community.

In June 2018 Rufus released his second album titled “Gone But Not Forgotten” on his imprint Urban X Entertainment. The album explores subjects like forgiveness, mourning, love, celebration and acceptance. This comes after the passing of his childhood friend whilst paying homage to his neighbourhood Kingscourt. Sonically, the album will mostly have elements of Soul & R&B but will feature undertones of hip hop, jazz and gospel music. With the album raring in motion to be released, Rufus still finds time to operate a mentorship initiative called “Music Is My Weapon” for the youth in his community.  Over the years the ongoing project has been recognized for their contributions to the artistic culture within the region and has gone on to win The Bernice Adam’s Award (Performance Category) & a Region of Waterloo Arts Award (Mentors Category).

In the tradition of many renowned R&B musicians, Rufus began singing with the church at the age of 6. Born in Toronto, ON, raised in a West Indian Caribbean household he was exposed to and highly influenced by many of the music legends of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Throughout his high school years, he continued to sculpt his vocal and performance talents as the lead singer in a cover band. This led to Rufus experimenting in song writing, creating a library of life chronicles. He found it very therapeutic to channel his personal and challenging life experiences into heartfelt lyrics and songs.

With Rufus’s fan base growing steadily and seeing his hard work advantageously pay off. Rufus is preparing to step things up to give his fans more of an inside peak to his life and musical journey through the Gone But Not Forgotten Docu-Series. The mini docu-series will highlight his life as a father, entrepreneur, a mentor and of course, as an artist.

The life and talent of Rufus John personally and professionally is in an upward movement affecting everyone that encounters his musical genius. Whether on stage performing for the masses or giving back through his musically inspired youth mentorship program, his overall vision is to be a beacon of light for those coming up. It has become exciting to see when his enthusiasts are able to understand their story through his soulful truths, ultimately inspiring those around him. Needless to say, anyone who spends the time to listen to his art, will inevitably fall in love with Rufus John.

 

ACHIEVEMENTS/APPEARANCES:

2018 Lead Singer in World Rock Symphony Orchestra at Centre In The Square 

2018 Black Brilliance Conference Speaker

2017 Recipient of Cambridge Arts Connect Award

2017 Winner of the Bernice Adams Award (Performer Category)

2016 Recipient of a Waterloo Arts Award (Mentors Category)

2014 #11 on UK Independent Soul Charts,

2014 Rufus played Booker T Washington in the casting of Ragtime (New Hamburg)

2012 New Music Award Nominee: Urban Artist

2011 Producer/Writer/Actor in Generations Of Gospel: A Testament Of Time

2008 Top 100 Canadian Idol Contestants

2007 91.5 Rhythm of the Future Competition Winner

2001 Top 15 Finalists on Global’s Pop Stars II: Boys Meet Girls

 





Band Members