Saturday, September 3, 2016

We Will Stand – Russ and Tori Taff and James Hollihan

Just listen to him talk about what was on his heart in 1983, and see if Russ Taff doesn’t touch you too with a plea for unity. That’s what he was trying to do when he and two others penned some words that collectively say “We Will Stand”.  He and the others must have been talking and sharing about some difficult moments, and what instead they thought should be the focus of all Christian believers.  After all, if powerful leaders of nations, from opposite faith systems, can hold hands (as President Bush and an Arabian Prince Abdullah showed here in this April 2005 picture), shouldn’t people of the same basic faith be able to?

Russ Taff was 30 years old at the time, and probably still looking back at his upbringing, examining his circumstances at the time, and looking forward to what could be.  His family roots in Pentecostal worship and Gospel music made his choice of a singing career a natural outcome by his teenage years. He took his parents’ spiritual background and some of the popular secular music he heard and fused them to form his own sound with a band called Sounds of Joy. He sang with another group, the Imperials, in his mid-20s, and then went solo after a few years, so that by 1983, Russ had sung with various groups and with an eclectic style to match.  Perhaps that was the incubator of what his wife Tori, their friend James Hollihan, and Russ would write in “We Will Stand” – there is variety, but stay focused on a main unifying force. Based on the joint attribution, one can imagine the three of them sitting and mulling over their faith, each chiming in with their own earnest words to fill out the song’s potential, and dreaming about what it would mean if every believer stuck together. Russ speaks passionately about it during a minute or two of a performance of “We Will Stand” in 1983, probably while the song’s genesis was still fresh in his memory. Russ felt that no denominational wedges should block the message of what ‘Christian’ means – togetherness in Him. Another video testimony, many years later, shows Russ Taff being very personal and vulnerable about his life in a conversation with his friend Bill Gaither, and telling from his own standpoint how he has been able to endure – to stand. He sounds like a very indebted person, compelled to repeat what’s been in his heart for several decades.

With so many musical memories and friends to share them, Russ Taff keeps going back to the well of “We Will Stand” to re-drink from its contents. There was a concert with his musical friends in January 2015 that was punctuated with the song, and the previous year Russ’s handwritten words to the song were used to raise funds for a mission work in Ecuador. So, it’s not just any song. Unity is not a casual expectation. He himself prayed for this in a garden, just before He was to die. You think this is important? He’s not a God I want to disappoint.

Lotsa information re: the song and its meaning today are here:

Russ talks about what the song means to him in this song link:  (between the 1:18 and 2:55 minute marks)

Here’s an interview with Russ Taff:
Biography of Russ Taff here:

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