Jay Farmer, Trell Lewis, Rocky McKaufman and Leonardo Pettis -- collectively, Joose -- came out of the gospel music community in Oklahoma City, and the strong gospel training showed in their work. Really outstanding harmonies and a spirituality that came through even when singing secular songs.
They were signed by Elektra and released their self-titled debut (and final) album in 1997. It was an exceptional album that should have been a smash. While the production was at times overly programmed, the vocal arrangements were superb and the material solid. They hit on Adult Contemporary and Urban AC charts with an interesting cover of fellow Oklahoman Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes," turning an instant country classic into a beautiful soul ballad. And that fine first single gave an indication of the vocal work that would highlight the disc. The remainder of the album Joose had a decidedly old school sound that was extremely entertaining. But the real gem was "The Rain," a haunting 5-minute masterpiece produced by the Rhythm Syndicate that was, in my book, the best song of 1997.
Unfortunately, the sales of Joose were not sufficient to get the green light for a second album, and Joose the group settled for contributions to a couple of soundtracks before completely fading from sight; a fate that was not justified, given their significant talent.
Buyer beware! There is now another, very different, California based rock group named Joose that released its first album in 2004 called "Fools Paradise." Don't buy it thinking it is the guys from Oklahoma.
By Chris Rizik