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Meet Justin Ruff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Ruff.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Justin. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started singing at a young age. My mother is a singer, so it rubbed off on me. I grew up in a household filled with music. She would play artists like Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Luther Vandross, and other great soul artists. I became really interested in the way they used their voices and the live elements of their records. Later, I attended a performing arts high school in Cincinnati, OH. I majored in Vocal Music with a focus on Jazz. I started really honing in on my craft here and thinking about how I could incorporate that style into my R&B/Soul background and develop a sound of my own.

Once I graduated, I attended Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL as a Vocal Jazz major. I was there for a year and had to leave due to financial hardships. I decided to stay in Chicago because there were more opportunities there than back home. I started performing heavily, recording original music, and networking with local artists and musicians. I released my debut EP, The Ruff Draft in 2016. Shortly after, people started paying attention. I started opening for some major artists and even won a headliner slot on the Bud Light stage at Taste of Chicago. I relocated to Atlanta about a year ago to further pursue my music career.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My journey has had its ups and downs. When I realized I couldn’t afford college after my first year, it was a low moment for me. I felt like I had let my family down because I know how proud they were of me going to college. I decided to stay and focus on my music career. I didn’t want to go back home because Chicago had more opportunities musically. I didn’t have a job or a place to stay. I had to crash at friend’s houses on floors for a bit. I couldn’t afford to pay for studio time, so I sang hooks and background vocals for other artists as payment. It was rough, but humbling experience for me. It made me a hard worker and more focused than ever.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m most proud of my growth as an artist. I’ve come to accept and appreciate the things that make me stand out. My spin on modern R&B infused with my love for Jazz and Hip Hop have allowed me to explore different parts of my voice, create interesting, yet catchy melodies and vulnerable writing.

Right now, I’m focused on creating timeless, feel-good records. With my next project, I want to create a Vibe from beginning to end. This will be my most personal project to date and I’m excited to share it with everyone.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My family is my biggest inspiration. My mother remains my all-time favorite singer. I’ve always admired her stage presence and the way she builds her live shows. She always gives me notes on how to enhance my performance. I’ve had some wonderful teachers and vocal coaches that helped me in owning my sound unapologetically. I have so many friends and family that motivate me and continue to support my music.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Deion Delgado, Michael Mcgee, Craig Warnhoff, Andrew Regalado

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