An Unassuming Beginning to National Exposure— Rochester’s Own

An Unassuming Beginning to National Exposure— Rochester’s Own


By Gloria A. Morgan Ed, D.

Rufus W. McGee, Jr. openly and enthusiastically shared his journey from percussionist to keyboardist to producer as we chatted a few times by phone. Why phone? It is difficult to see him in person—he is a person “on the move” in more ways than one. Rufus is a native Rochesterian who has developed a love for music at a young age. It all began at his childhood church, Powerhouse Church of God in Christ.

He chuckled as he told of “sitting on the front pew each Sunday beginning at the age of two.” He and other youngsters watched, listened and played their drumsticks in the air. Eventually he had his chance to play for the Sunshine Band children’s choir. Eventually, his father (Rufus, Sr.) became a pastor. Rufus would join him on Saturdays as he (father not son) cleaned the church. The time was perfect for Rufus to spend playing and practicing on the drums. His love and skill of the craft grew.

In middle school, he was honored by the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee with a $1,000 award that was used for drum lessons at the Hochstein School of Music. His father wanted him to take piano lessons, but most of what was being taught at the sessions, he already knew. Rufus reflected, “I could hear something one time and play it.” He realized that he had an “ear” for music. He grew bored and stopped attending halfway through. He shares, “in my eyes, I was a drummer and being young.” Ultimately, Rufus, Sr.’s desire prevailed. At the age of 11, he watched others on the keyboard—Antoine Owens, Chris Horton, and Rodney Roberts.

They showed him how to play, and his first experience was learning baseline for “dancing” (shouting) music for the Black church experience. Rufus would practice faithfully on Saturdays and would eventually play songs without having the ability to read music. He was ambitious and taught himself music theory by watching YouTube® videos and reading books.
With a desire to do more and a drive to pursue his dreams, at 18 Rufus developed an interest in producing. A gift from his father provided the seed money to purchase his studio equipment. His voice clearly relays his appreciation for the gift. RMJ Productions was born. He spent time with Paul Boutte and eventually produced a song for Dita Monique—his first production. There was success. Rufus has produced for other local artists that include Serena Young, Jason Wright, Zion Dominion Global Ministries, and MJ Productions. Beyond Rochester he has produced for Danell Daymon & Greater Works of Seattle; Rainey Harris of Memphis, Tennessee; and coproduced for Tavares Stephens of Atlanta He has secured an endorsement from Hammond Organ as an endorsee—he has national exposure for his gift and talent.

He is an Alclair Audio endorsee—a headphone company that customizes them for you; and they are used for playing, for producing, and for live recording. Of course, I asked about perks (I’m sure it’s in your mind, too). Rufus gets a generous discount on products; repairs are done without cost—others have to pay who are not artists or professionals in the industry. Rufus enjoys sharing what he has learned with others. He believes, “My job is to bring to life someone’s idea or a project he/she may have.” He continues, “I have to keep it as the person’s idea and not make it my own; I bring their dream to life.”

He takes joy in doing and being creative in addition to helping to bring someone else’s vision to pass. This 30-something young (single) man attributes his success to mentors: Aaron Lindsey, Asaph Ward, Rodney Jenkins, and Warren Campbell—top producers he has studied under as a young child until now. He is pleased with his work with Lindsey to produce an album for Kathy Bowman.

Of course, I had to ask about his favorite genre of music. He is a true music lover; he loves them all from gospel, jazz, R & B, and Pop. However, his absolute favorite is gospel. Rufus’ future aspirations include: own his own record label and have a few studios across the country. He also desires to teach youth how to accomplish their dreams in music. He did not have the opportunity to go to a place and get first-hand knowledge; he wants to do this for youth. This writer believes that he will travel the world over as he pursues his passion and dreams.