When he first recorded “I Still Believe” in the late 1980s, it meant “something totally different.” Today, Russ Taff’s version of the song speaks not only to where he’s been, but to where he’s going.
“When I recorded that, I was in so much pain and I was crying out for help,” Taff recalled during an interview with Faithwire. “I was singing, ‘Lord, through the shame, through the guilt, through the lies, through the storms, through the cries, through the wars, I believe in you.’”
For the first time in his career, the 64-year-old singer, who ascended to stardom in the mid-1970s as the soulful lead vocalist for The Imperials, is pulling back the curtain, the glamorous facade that kept separate his private struggles and his public successes.
The Grammy-winning entertainer reveals the intense personal pain he has endured in the new documentary, “I Still Believe,” in select theaters Oct. 30. The film also features personal accounts from Tori, his wife of 42 years, and several beloved Christian performers, like Bill Gaither, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Bart Millard and Mark Lowry.
Taff grew up in a religious home; his late father was a Pentecostal preacher. But his life was far from healthy. His dad, an alcoholic, was physically abusive and very jealous of him because of his talents and Taff’s mother turned to him to be the emotional support that would, in a healthy situation, be reserved for another adult.
So when he set out on his own, Taff didn’t know how to handle the success that came his way. His father constantly degraded him and his mother used him, so he followed the life that had been modeled for him.
Taff turned to alcohol.
He lived for many years as two people: the famed Christian artist who accepted awards and accolades alongside The Imperials and stirred audiences with his unique sound and the man who couldn’t face his own personal demons, instead choosing to silence them with drugs.
It took many years and many people to bring Taff to a healthier place. For those living in the midst of incredibly sorrow or suffering, Taff said “pray anyway” because God is faithful, but healing is “a process” that “takes work.”
Looking back from where God’s brought him, Taff, who has been sober for many years, said it’s important to share his testimony, leaving no stone unturned or story untold.
“For the last five years, I’ve just felt really prompted by Jesus to tell my whole story,” Taff said of why he’s chosen to take his life’s journey to the silver screen. “My mom and dad are in glory, so there’s no one left to protect and I just really felt like the Lord told me, if I tell the whole story, that it would bring glory to him.”
That song, “I Still Believe,” which he recorded once again for his forthcoming album, “Believe,” debuting Nov. 2, tells a different, more complete story now. No longer is Taff clinging to something he hasn’t yet seen.
Now the legendary singer-songwriter is looking forward, armed with the proof of God’s faithfulness in his life.
“It’s like a declaration of freedom,” Taff said. “Now it’s just a victorious declaration and celebration. I still believe, and it saved me.”
Taff’s documentary, “I Still Believe,” is in theaters Oct. 30 for a special, one-night event.