The Soulful Journey of Mississippi Born Jimmy Ruffin

The Soulful Journey of Mississippi Born Jimmy Ruffin

The world of music has been graced by countless artists who have left an indelible mark on our hearts and souls. Mississippi-born Jimmy Ruffin is one such artist who has been celebrated for his rich, soulful voice and his contribution to the Motown legacy. In this article, we will explore the life and career of Jimmy Ruffin, the man behind some of the most iconic songs in the world of rhythm and blues.

Early Life and Roots

Jimmy Lee Ruffin was born on May 7, 1936, in the small town of Collinsville, Mississippi. He grew up in a large family, the son of a Baptist minister and a gospel singer. Music was an integral part of his life from an early age, as he and his siblings often sang in their father's church. This upbringing instilled in him a deep love for gospel music, and that influence would later become apparent in his soulful vocal delivery.

The Journey to Motown

In the 1960s, Ruffin and his brother David moved to Detroit, Michigan, seeking greater opportunities in the music industry. It was in the Motor City that Jimmy Ruffin's journey to musical stardom truly began. He initially worked with Berry Gordy's Motown Records as a songwriter, penning songs for various artists on the label. However, his path to success as a recording artist was just beginning.

Motown recognized Ruffin's vocal prowess and offered him a recording contract. His first single, "Don't Feel Sorry for Me," was released in 1961, but it didn't achieve significant success. It was not until 1966 that he would achieve the breakthrough that would cement his place in the annals of soul music.

Soulful Hits

Jimmy Ruffin's career-defining moment came with the release of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" in 1966. This timeless classic soared up the charts and reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ruffin's emotive and heartfelt delivery of the song's poignant lyrics made it an instant classic. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" became an anthem of heartbreak and resilience, resonating with audiences across the globe.

His subsequent hits, including "I've Passed This Way Before," "Gonna Give Her All the Love I've Got," and "I'll Say Forever My Love," further solidified his reputation as a soulful crooner with an ability to convey deep emotion through his music.

Legacy and Impact

Jimmy Ruffin's impact on the world of music extended far beyond the 1960s. His soulful voice and emotionally charged performances left an indelible mark on the hearts of many. Ruffin's music continues to be celebrated and cherished by fans, and his songs have been covered by a myriad of artists across various genres.

Ruffin's legacy also extends to his influence on other artists, particularly those in the Motown family. He paved the way for future generations of soul and R&B artists, showcasing the power of heartfelt, genuine performances in a world of ever-changing musical trends.

Tragically, Jimmy Ruffin passed away on November 17, 2014, but his music and memory live on. His timeless ballads remain a source of comfort and inspiration for generations of music lovers.


Jimmy Ruffin, the Mississippi-born soulful crooner, captured the hearts of many with his emotive and powerful voice. His journey from a small Mississippi town to Motown stardom is a testament to his talent and determination. His music, particularly the unforgettable "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," continues to resonate with listeners around the world, reminding us of the enduring power of soulful, heartfelt music. Jimmy Ruffin's legacy remains firmly embedded in the rich tapestry of soul and R&B music, ensuring that his voice will forever be remembered and cherished.


Grow, K. (2018, June 25). Jimmy Ruffin, Motown Hitmaker, dead at 78. Rolling Stone.


Jimmy Ruffin · What Becomes of the Brokenhearted
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