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Lee University’s Dr. José Ruiz and Robert Acevedo collaborated with Grammy winning artist Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G) on an award-winning album, “Mundo Verde/Green World.” Ruiz and Acevedo also recently released a Latin jazz album project, “Ahora Más Que Nunca.” 

In spring 2017, Mister G asked Ruiz, assistant professor of music business at Lee, to contribute to “Mundo Verde/Green World,” his eco-friendly, bilingual children’s music album. The album was recently awarded the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, an award for children’s music and toys regarded to be equivalent to an Academy Award. 

After listening to Mister G’s songs, Ruiz asked Acevedo, pastoral ministry major from Ponce, Puerto Rico, if he would be willing to join him in the project. The three musicians then began sharing ideas, motivations for creating and performing music, and details about one another’s professional work. 

“I enjoyed creating an opportunity for a student to engage in professional work,” said Ruiz. “As a music business professor, it is my mission to engage students in experiential learning opportunities to strengthen their God-given gifts and help them, ultimately, become more marketable post-graduation.” 

Ruiz served as an additional recording engineer and flutist for the album’s song, “Patas en el aire/Paws in the air,” and Acevedo served as percussionist. 

The professor-student duo collaborated in Ruiz’s studio in Tennessee while Mister G worked in Massachusetts, communicating primarily through Facebook. 

“Both José and Robert went far above and beyond the call and gave me many excellent tracks to work with,” said Mister G. “Although we worked remotely, it was a process which couldn’t have been smoother if we’d been sitting in the same room, although that would arguably have been even more fun.” 

Ruiz and Acevedo recently achieved another accomplishment in the music business with their release of “Ahora Más Que Nunca,” a Latin jazz album project the duo began in the spring. 

According to Ruiz, the album encourages people to pursue their calling and express their creative identity.

“As a student, I learned that my talents and abilities can be used now, not just in the future. If you can make a difference now, there’s no sense in waiting,” said Acevedo. “This experience has taught me that we have to seize the day and make the most out of every opportunity given to us as students and professionals in this world. I can’t wait for more opportunities like this to come.” 

The album incorporates elements of African drumming, Caribbean folk music, jazz, and funk. The cross-curricular project includes well-known flutist Jim Walker, drummer Jesse Pitts, and Latin percussionist Benny Maldonado. 

In addition to Ruiz and Acevedo, included in the project are Lee students Cameron Ball, co-arranger; Rume Ekong and Chike Okwudiafor, photography and artwork; Darius Hairston, guitar; Jalil Muhammad, co-producer; and Lee School of Music faculty Dr. Nathan Warner, flugelhorn, and Alan Wyatt, tenor saxophone. 

“It was a pleasure to utilize the unique talents of both my students and colleagues,” said Ruiz. “Each of them made my compositions come to life in a special way.” 

Prior to joining Lee’s faculty in 2016, Ruiz served as a film scorer, commercial music composer, and music supervisor for Hayden5Media, LLC. In these roles, he composed, arranged, and produced music for nationally publicized TV and internet commercials and four feature films that have garnered 13 international film festival awards. 

“Ahora Más Que Nunca” is available on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube, and CDBaby. 

For more information about Parents’ Choice Awards, visit http://www.parents-choice.org/aboutawards.cfm. 

For more information about Mister G, visit https://mistergsongs.com/mister-g-about/. 

For more information about Ruiz, visit www.josevalentino.com. 

For more information about Lee’s School of Music, call 423-614-8240 or email music@leeuniversity.edu