Russ Taff is one of the most distinctive vocalists in Christian music. And he sang some of the biggest songs from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s. Russ came to prominence as a member of the group The Imperials. He was with them from 1976 – 1981 and sang lead vocals on “Praise The Lord” from the 1979 album “Heed The Call,” “I’m Forgiven” from the 1979 album “One More Song For You,” (yes, they released two albums in 1979) and “The Trumpet Of Jesus” from the 1980 “Priority.”
Russ left the Imperials in 1981 to pursue a solo career. He was not the first to leave the group for this, nor would he be the last. The Imperials were founded in 1964 by Jake Hess as a traditional Southern Gospel quartet. Hess “owned” the group and the other members were technically employees, paid a salary instead of taking equal shares of proceeds from touring and recording. That arrangement was fairly common among early Southern Gospel groups and even some early mainstream rock acts. It’s also one of the reasons that those groups would see such high turnover among their artists.
His first solo album, “Walls Of Glass,” was released in 1983. It included the song “We Will Stand” which become the #1 song at Christian radio that year. Russ also won the Grammy Award that year for Best Gospel Performance, Male and the 1984 Dove Award for Male Vocalist of the Year.
Russ followed that up with the 1985 “Medals” album, which included a number of hit singles, including “Silent Love” which was the #4 song of the year on Christian radio (interestingly, Russ’ old group The Imperials had the #1 song that year with “Let The Wind Blow”). The album won a Dove Award for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year.
The 1987 album “Russ Taff” featured a rockier sound and won a Dove Award as Rock Album of the Year. He released “The Way Home” in 1990 and in 1991 “Under Their Influence Vol. 1” which won a Grammy Award for Best Rock/Contemporary Gospel Album.
In 1992 Russ released “A Christmas Song” which featured Christmas classics and carols in a big band style. Russ released only two other albums in the 1990s, “Winds Of Change” in 1995 and “Right Here Right Now” in 1999.
In 2002 Russ joined the Gaither Vocal Band and recorded and toured with them through 2004. He still joins in for many Gaither Homecoming concerts and recordings. Russ did record two additional albums after leaving the Gaither Vocal Band, the 2010 “Another Sentimental Christmas” and “Faroe Islands” in 2011.
Many of Russ Taff’s biggest hits happened before concept music videos became common, and the few that I could find are pretty low quality. I did manage to find a live version of Russ’ biggest solo hit as well as a few videos put together by fans.
Here’s Russ doing “We Will Stand” live as part of one of the Gaither Homecoming events.
This is a fan generated video that includes the audio from the original recording of “We Will Stand” as released on the 1983 “Walls Of Glass.”
This is “Silent Love” from the 1985 album “Medals.”
One of the few concept videos I could find, “I Cry” from the 1990 “The Way Home.”
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