The Ruppes, RIP
With just about as little fanfare as possible, the Ruppes have dissolved. The dissolution didn’t even warrant its own announcement. Rather it got squeezed in between the lines of a press release announcing matriarch Brenda Ruppe is now available for solo appearances.
What a shame. In the first place, as genuine and earnest as Brenda Ruppe is, she’s simply not solo material, unless by solo you mean “preaching,” which she may well end up doing before it’s all said and done. Her voice is perfect for ensemble work but is not the stuff of which marquee performers are made, much less a stand-alone solo set. Too much warble and weeping. I’m sure her teary pietism will play well with a certain faithful church crowd, so she shouldn’t have trouble staying busy. But it will be the kind of work that virtually guarantees a slow drift into obsolescence.
But the real loss here is the Ruppes as a group. I can still remember hearing Seasons for the first time. It was an epiphany to me, the kind of sound and skill that epitomized what people mean when they refer to artists as “a singer’s singer.” There are few artists who can sing flatfooted and take the top of your head off with a smile and a pitch-perfectly sung passing tone the way the Ruppes could in their prime.
Meanwhile, I see while I was grieving for the Ruppes’ demise, Lordsong – the group formed when Kim Ruppe Lord left the Ruppes several years ago and started singing with her husband, Michael – have bon-voyaged soprano Amber Balltzglier. The timing makes a curious soul wonder if the remaining Ruppe daughters – Valerie and Heather – aren’t working on something that involves the Lords now that they’re free agents.
Anyway, if LS is scoring as big as it appears they are on tour with Mark Lowry, perhaps this is their chance to rescue the other siblings in a reconstructed and expanded LordSong (maybe, a la TK&McCrae, they’ll rename themselves LordSong, Day, and Ruppe, or somesuch … we can only hope not). I confess I don’t keep up with LS as closely as I did the Ruppes, mainly because their sound has gone a bit stylistically flabby since their partnership with Lowry – part P&W, part CCM, part southern, part pop, but without a defining center to hold it all together or give it a graspable shape. It’s smart bidness, this smorgasbord approach, given the Gaitherized crowds Lowry & Friends play to. But it puts LS in a unique position of not really having a home genre to roll their Lowry success into and not having enough stature or growing room to really establish themselves as a genuine crossover act. Thinking about this from a record company’s perspective, I’m hardpressed to see a label with whom LS would clearly fit at the moment – unless Lowry can convince Bill Gaither to sign them or, just as likely, Lowry sets up his own label.
Now, when is the Ruppes commemorative album coming out?
Update: Comments 1-3 make me out to be both a soothsayer and asleep at the switch. Looks like an expanded LordSong debuted recently at Branson and the Ruppes announced their disbanding a bit ago (told you I’ve been busy lately). The new LS included a husband, Greg Day, whom I hadn’t factored into my theory, but close enough for hand grenades and horseshoes, not to mention your average praise and worship team - let’s all sing harmony in unison.
Later update: Reader TK writes of the new LordSong lineup: “I saw [them] w/Lowry their 3rd night out about a month ago. They did a few songs with all of them–some with cool 5-6 part harmony expanded off their trio arrangement of “Lord of the Dance”. The 3 sisters did a song together. Mark, Michael Lord, Greg Day and Stan Whitmire did a quartet song. And there were other vocal configurations that made it a very interesting concert though nothing quite gelled.”
Even later update: Here’s an interview Chuck Peters did with Brenda Ruppes agent.Email this Post