Legacy Award Recipients


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2016 Award Recipients

2016 Legacy Award Recipient

rwiseRev. Raymond Wise, Ph. D., a native of Baltimore, Md., is the son of C. Dexter Wise Jr. and Rev. Julia Virginia Wise. He began his musical career at the age of three, singing gospel music with his family singing group "The Wise Singers." Rev. Wise was educated through the Baltimore City Public School System and graduated second out of class of 500 from the Paul Laurence Dunbar Community High School in 1979.

He then went on to Denison University (Granville, Ohio) where he reorganized the Black Student Union Choir, started the Black Student Union Ensemble and Dance company and earned a B.F.A. in Music. From there he went on to study Opera, Art, and German at the Institute for European Studies in Vienna, Austria, then on to study African-American History, Music, and Dance at San Francisco State University in San Francisco, California. He completed an apprenticeship in the business and recording of Gospel Music with the Walter Hawkins Corporation in Oakland, California. Rev. Wise was awarded a Graduate Fellowship from the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio where earned his Masters in Music Education and Ohio Teacher's Certification. In addition he also completed a Doctorate in Music Education at the Ohio State University for which his dissertation topic is "Defining African American Gospel Music by Tracing its Historical and Musical Development from 1900 to 2000." Rev. Wise began his acting career at the age of 9, when he played the role of Benjamin in a regional theater production of 'The Me Nobody Knows". He sang the role of Amahl in Menotti's “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”  READ MORE

2016 Community Leadership Award

mruffinMilton Vaughn Ruffin, Ph.D., holds a BA in Jazz Studies and BA, MA and Ph.D. degrees in Music Education from The Ohio State University. He has been employed by Columbus City Schools for 24 years, currently as principal and director of the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center. Under Dr. Ruffin's leadership, Fort Hayes has been designated as a "School of Promise" by the State of Ohio, and identified as one of the "Top 100 High Schools in America" by U.S. News and World Report; also, the school was chosen by President Obama to introduce the Jobs Act. Fort Hayes is a member of the prestigious Berklee City Music network and has been awarded a Grammy Award as a Grammy Signature School for the 2011-2012 school year.

Dr. Ruffin has presented at numerous conferences including OMEA and the Berklee City Music conference. A highly respected musician, Dr. Ruffin was the composer for the Columbus 200 Celebration Anthem for the city of Columbus, Ohio.

Ruffin was previously the instrumental music instructor and band director at the Monroe Traditional Middle School where he developed a program that included over sixty percent of the student body. READ MORE.

2015 Award Recipient

2015 Legacy Award Recipient

VonThomasThe song, Use Me Lord, Be Glorified in Me, written by Pastor Von, clearly reflects her life and ministry. Her music ministry of over 40 years includes psalmist, songwriter, pianist/organist, choir director, and minister of music. A native of Columbus, Ohio; she is the founder and pastor of the Abundant Life Christian Center (Columbus, Ohio) and founder and president of Von Thomas Ministries, Inc. Motivated by her passion to bring unity to the Body of Christ, Pastor Von used music as the vehicle to annihilate denominational, racial, and generational barriers. In 1987, with the prayers and support of the late Bishop Kenneth L. Bligen, her vision came to fruition as Von Thomas & Friends Interdenominational Love Choir (the Love Choir) held it first concert at the Rehoboth Temple Church. A total of 11 churches participated. Although its beginnings were small, God gave amazing increase as the Love Choir grew from 70 voices to 250, representing 56 participating churches. Surely God was glorified as lives were changed by His divine presence. In 1997, the Love Choir recorded its first live CD, Whatsoever Things, and later recorded a second project, When I Let Go. Pastor Von is well known for her gift to write songs. Many of her compositions are sung by choirs both locally and nationally. Under the direction of Dr. Raymond Wise, two of her compositions, Hear our Prayer and We Just Want to Praise You, were sung by the Mass Choir at the 77th Annual Hampton University Choir Directors and Organists Guild Conference in June 2011. Hear Our Prayer was published in the Hymn and Service Song Book. Pastor Von is the recipient of numerous awards for the musical accomplishments and for her service in the community. Included among these are the Columbus Gospel Music Legend Award by the Vocal Ensemble of Columbus State Community College, the Legacy Award to Christian Artists of Central Ohio, the Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award by the Columbus Education Association, the Living Faith Award, the Community Activist Award by St. Dominic Catholic Diocese, the Women of Excellence Award, the Remarkable Woman Award, and more. Realizing the every good and perfect gift is from above, Pastor Von humbly declares, “To God by the glory for the things He has done.”

2014 Award Recipient

2014 Legacy Award Recipient

Thommy Adams is a director, composer, and clinician. He has served in music ministry in Columbus, Ohio for more than thirty years, before relocating to Los Angeles, CA in November 2007. His church roots began in Gospel Tabernacle Unity Holy Church in Columbus, Ohio. Thommy continued his spiritual growth and development at the Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Rehoboth Temple COOLJC, and New Covenant Believers’ Church. There he served as director of the adult and mass choirs. Thommy worships at Spirt and Truth Worship Center (UPCI) of Orange County. Thommy has received numerous honors and awards from churches, civic organizations, city and state governments. He has written and arranged over 300 songs. In 1998, Thommy recorded a CD <i>The Awakening, Get’N Back to Gospel </i>featuring 150 voice choir singing some of Thommy’s personal favorite compositions and arrangements. It is Thommy’s desire to motivate and inspire singers to realize the importance and the IMPACT of the music ministry in the worship service and to never praise the gift more than the Giver of the gift, JESUS Christ.