K~W~A: About us
K W A, Kingdom Word Abide, is a gospel recording group who's founding members are Pastor Willie and Karleen Russ. They are joined by a very dedicated supporting cast consisting of Mickey and Margaret Barber, Amy Smith, and Desmond Beauford. Pastor Willie and Karleen also are supported by their two younger children - RaeShay and Wynnon Russ. Also providing a vital service in the kingdom of God and to this ministry in particular is Jason Russ, the brother of Pastor Willie. Pastor Willie, Karleen and the members reside in Ft. Pierce, FL. Together they are answering the call of God to record, produce and minister songs of praise, worship, and inspiration to the body of Christ.
The mission of K W A is to offer praise to God, to edify the believer, and to evangelize to the lost. K W A ministers to the lost as well as to the believer through the Word, with their music, and exaltation -singing praises and worshiping their God, their Savior, and their Lord.
K W A is an outgrowth of PureFire Ministries, Inc. They were previously known locally as the Higher Praise Singers and prior to that, Deputies of Praise. This ministry is also well known locally for participating with civic organizational groups and local churches in community social and religious events. The songs are all original compositions written and arranged by Pastor Willie Russ. Ayana Hart-Russ and Reginald Thomas also have original compositions included on the second full album project. They have recorded one full album "WhataChange", a maxi-single released in 2006 entitled "A New Heart" and the most recent project in 2009 entitled Karleen & Kingdom Mandate. They have been signed by Famous Records, Corp, a division of Universal Records to a press and distribution contract. The two latest projects it is available in download form at most of the digital outlets; soon to be in stores. The CD can also be acquire through the website. They are in rotation with WJFP (91.1FM) and WIRA (1400AM) on the Treasure Coast with a song from the cd titled "Jehovah Rules!!!"
The purpose of K W A’s ministry is to bring people of all backgrounds into a closer relationship with Jesus. Their ministry brings healing, restoration, and praise to the body of Christ. They truly enjoy what they do and thank God for every opportunity.
”We praise God for what He is doing and we honor Him with all our efforts in working out the mission that He has called us to”.
Willie Russ, Jr. - Pastor-Composer-Song Writer-Producer
Kingdom Word Abide aka K.W.A. Ministries is the divinely given ministry to Dr. Willie J. Russ, Jr. and wife Karleen. The name is the brainchild of Willie Russ after some contemplation and prayer. Willie is a 21 year veteran of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. He left this position after hearing the call of God to go into full-time ministry in 2004. Willie Russ was born September 21, 1956 to the late Willie Sr. and Minnie Russ. Willie has always had a love for music and at an early age took guitar lessons. As a teenager, Willie was inspired by his father, who played saxophone, and he took up this instrument. Willie played this instrument in his junior high school band. In high school Willie started a rhythm and blues band, Next of Kin, and they were very popular among the neighborhood residences, who stood in his grandparents’ yard for hours listening to the band rehearse, to local high schools and night clubs. This band had promise but was not able to capitalize on their opportunities. In 1976 Willie recognized a need to change the course of his life so he converted and gave his life to God.
Immediately he had an experience where he began to hear lyrics about his new lifestyle. He met up with his friends from high school and a new band was started call God’s Gospel Band. Willie continued to write lyrics and songs were composed with this new band. He also began preaching the word of God. This band sang in local churches and for local events. It was during this time that Willie met his wife, Karleen, and they were wedded on November 8, 1986. All were members together of Apostle Faith Church of Jesus, Inc. where they began to work with the church choir.
Willie, while employed with the Sheriff’s Office, was approached by the Sheriff and asked to develop a “Cops for Christ” choir. Willie elicited the assistance of his wife and a friend, Sandy Mack and they began working together and appearing at Sheriff’s Office functions and local civic events. This small evangelistic group continued to grow and evolve until it reached 30 members from the detention center of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. The group was named Deputies of Praise and developed a reputation within the community. This group recorded a nine (9) song cassette at Tri-Ram Studios in 1996. The cassettes sold well for a local project and inspired Willie to pursue a goal to record and distribute on a global scale.
Willie was interviewed in several newspapers and was spotted by a start up studio in Pt. St. Lucie, Millennium Productions. Willie sought the assistance of family friends, Earl and Mary Hendricks, and Frances Scott-Jones and they began to work on a professional recording project. This new ministry was named, The Higher Praise Singers. This effort did not reach fruition because of financial struggles with the studio. Also the Deputies of Praise Choir was disbanded after a new sheriff was elected. However, Willie was not discourage and continued to pursue his desire to record a professional product that would bless the hearers.
In 1999 Willie found himself with another large following and sought God, Who called him to start an established church and evangelistic praise and worship ministry. This new team was named PureFire Ministries, Inc. Under this name Willie continued to write, compose and work on a recording. However, financial constraints made completing the effort quite difficult. Finally, God had given Willie the resources but Willie had to take a “leap of faith”. This is when Willie was called to leave his 21 year position at the Sheriff’s Office as a Lieutenant, in line for a promotion for Captain. Willie answered the call, spoke with his wife and a few close friends and together they all undertook the effort, supporting him and believing God that he and they were all called to do this tremendous work. And this is where he finds himself today. Willie and his team, K.W.A. Ministries, completed a full album released October 13, 2009 entitled Kingdom Mandate featuring the hit single "Jehovah Rules!!!". A maxi single was released in 2006 entitled, “A New Heart”. This recording included Willie, Karleen (wife), Ayana, (daughter) and family friends Mickey and Margaret Barber. This maxi single brought such praise and glory to God and Willie knew he was on the right track. The new album has other members as this ministry continues to grow. K.W.A. Ministries is now 10 members strong and growing.
Willie Russ, affectionate known as BaeBae, a nickname given to him by his grandparents and a nickname he still answers to by his family, close personal friends and long time acquaintances; has evolved into a man of God, a preacher, an evangelist, a writer and composer, a producer. He is also a husband, father of four, grandfather of three, a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a mentor, a role model, a close personal friend. This Willie Russ is utilizing all of his faith, all of his efforts and all of his resources to answer the call of God. That call is to preach the Word, to cause all people to praise and worship God, to bring those of like faith into a better knowledge of God and to evangelize the lost.
Karleen Russ - Lead and Background vocalist
Karleen Russ was born Karleen Renell Smith on December 1, 1965 to Homer, Jr. and Sandra. Karleen was born and raised in Fort Pierce, Florida. She attended all the local schools and graduated in 1983 from Fort Pierce Westwood High School, although she spent the majority of her high school years at Fort Pierce Central High School. Karleen attended Indian River Community College where she earned an Associate in Arts degree in 1985. One year later she was married to Willie Russ, Jr and K.W. A Minstries, Inc. was conceived.
Karleen developed a love for music and singing at an early age as she was brought up in church singing in Angel and youth choirs and participating in youth ministries. Karleen cites her mother and grandparents as the greatest influence of her values and beliefs in God. This influence birthed that love for music and singing. Karleen’s gift for singing was recognized early in life and as a youth, she was encouraged to sing lead in her church choirs. This was a great opportunity as it gave her experience with being in front of groups of people. This would prove to be a valuable experience later in life as she began to sing lead in competitions in school.
Karleen, in addition to singing in the church choir, joined the school chorus as a junior high school student and continued taking chorus until graduating from high school. Karleen credits her gift of singing to God and the honing of this gift to her high school chorus teacher Earl F. Little. Karleen learned much about theory and techniques studying under him. During her four high school years, she participated in many competitions and her chorus was notorious for attending local, regional and state competitions making excellent ratings every year. Karleen branched out as a junior and senior in high school and joined smaller ensembles and solo competitions as well making excellent markings.
After high school, Karleen continued to sing in the choir at her local church but did not have a true relationship with God. It was during her college years that Karleen gave her heart and life to God and committed to live her life according to His will. Shortly after committing her life, she joined a community group called God’s Gospel Band and a local church, Apostle Faith Church of Jesus. This is when and where she met her husband, Willie. They were married November 8, 1986. Karleen was already familiar with Willie as they were both from Fort Pierce, Florida and she was part of the crowed that stood outside of Willie’s grandparents’ home listening to his band rehearse while Willie was a high school student and Karleen was a young teen.
Karleen’s love for singing and music made this union comparable to what God had for this union. Karleen encouraged and supported her husband in his desire to write and compose songs, joining choirs and community groups with him.
Under PureFire Ministries, Karleen and Willie began the pursuit of a professional recording. Karleen and Willie declared that they had become an independent ministry on January 1, 2000 and found themselves spending an enormous amount of time recording and traveling.
After several attempts they finally completed a maxi single in 2006 entitled “A New Heart”. Karleen and Willie have since returned to the studio to record their second full length album, Kingdom Mandate featuring the hit single "Jehovah Rules!!!" released October 13, 20009.
K.W.A. Ministries is the end product of this union. God caused a young girl, with a love for singing and music, to join with a young man, with a love and gift of writing and composing, to bring about this music that feeds the soul and spirit.
Mickey Barber - Lead and Background vocalist
Mickey Barber was born in the small town of Quincy, Florida on January 23, 1956 to the parents of Willie James and the late Lorine Barber. Mickey was the only child but was raised by his great-grandparents for the first 2 years of his life. Mickey and his parents left Quincy, Florida and moved to Georgia where they stayed for seven years. While attending school in Georgia, Mickey became interested in sports, in particular track and field. Running became a passion for Mickey and he developed athleticism and a love for most sports.
At a young age, Mickey attended church regularly with his family. One of Mickey’s aunts was a singer in the choir and the family sang at home. Mickey developed a love for singing during these times and sought to hone this interest.
Leaving Georgia the family moved back to Florida to another small town, Melbourne. Continuing his education and his athletic pursuits, Mickey graduated from Mel High School in 1975. After graduation, Mickey joined the Job Corp and went to Kentucky where he studied brick and block masonry, developing the skills and earning a certification. After graduation from the Job Corp, Mickey joined the U.S. Army where he served for three years spending most of his time overseas. Upon returning home to Melbourne, Florida from his tour of duty in the U.S. Army, Mickey’s love for singing became of greater interest. Mickey joined the choir of a local church, Church of Christ, and a church ensemble was formed. This ensemble sang at local church functions and the highlight of this experience was the opening they did for the Mighty Clouds of Joy. Mickey was elated with his personal introduction of the lead singer, Joe. This experience caused Mickey to pursue this interest more but he did not continue.
After this time, Mickey was employed as a door to door salesman of vacuum cleaners, moving from town to town given demonstrations in homes. It was during this employ and demonstration that Mickey met his wife, Margaret. Mickey and Margaret developed a relationship and continue to have a long distance relationship for approximately one year. After this time they felt they were getting serious about each other and wanted to take the relationship to the next level. That is when Mickey decided to relocate and he moved to Fort Pierce, Florida. On December 28, 1998 Mickey married Margaret and they became a happy union.
Mickey had two children at this time and he became the step-father of three more children. Mickey’s wife and step-children attended church regularly and initially Mickey attended with them but stopped going. One day, Mickey’s wife and the children were attending a new church and invited him as they usually did. Mickey felt a conviction in his heart that he needed to attend with his family and this particular day got dressed and joined them. To Mickey’s surprise, the church service was held at a house church in the garage of the home. Mickey so enjoyed the praise and worship and the preaching that he immediately joined the church and the praise team. This was in the year of 2000 and the church was called PureFire Ministries.
Mickey has continued with the ministry until this date and continues to be an active member of PureFire Ministries. This ministry has formed a recording artist group called Kingdom Word Abide aka KWA Ministries. Mickey is actively involved in the recording artist ministry and also is featured as a lead vocalist. KWA Ministries recorded a maxi single in 2006 in which Mickey was featured as a lead vocalist in the song entitled “23” and he sang background on the remaining tracks. Mickey is also being featured on the new album Kingdom Mandate featuring the hit single "Jehobah Rules!!!" released October 13, 2009.
Mickey is known to express a great love and appreciation to PureFire Ministries as the vehicle that God used to bring him into His kingdom and to use him in the ministry of song. Mickey was ordained a deacon of PureFire Ministries and has continued this office.
Margaret Barber - Lead and Background vocalist
On February 27, 1964 a baby girl was born to two wonderful parents, the late (Robert) & Maude Boatwright. The baby girl was given the name Margaret Carey Boatwright and Margaret’s father gave her the nickname “Chubby”. Margaret is the youngest of 5 daughters. She felt like she was the “son” her father did not have as he took her to the baseball, softball, football, and basketball games. Margaret enjoyed every minute of it. She developed a love for sports, singing and meeting people. As a young child, Margaret was in church choirs and participated in singing at the local churches.
Margaret began her study of music in junior high when she joined the chorus. In high school, Margaret was in the chorus under the direction of Earl F. Little, and excellent music teacher. Under Mr. Little, Margaret also participated in ensembles and yearly participated in local, regional and, state compositions. Margaret’s high school, Ft. Pierce Central High, was known to make the highest markings in these compositions. Margaret remained in chorus from 9th grade to 12th grade and often quotes Mr. Little while rehearsing. After graduating from high school Margaret attended Bethune Cookman College studying Elementary Education. While attending college Margaret joined a Gospel Choir and also became a Sigma Star, the little sister of Phi Beta Sigma.
Margaret is the mother of three wonderful children, two sons and one daughter; and one granddaughter. When she found herself in the position of a single parent she experienced some hard times but Margaret had praying parents and has a mother who continues in intercessary prayer daily for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren; she also had a solid spiritual foundation; with the help of God Margaret endured those hard times until God brought a wonderful gift into her life in the form a Mickey. Mickey was a door to door salesman of vacuum cleaners with a company called Kirby. Mickey lived in Palm Bay at the time and was in the area selling his product. He knocked on Margaret’s door and she sat through a demonstration. After the demonstration, while he waited for his ride, they began to talk on a more personal level. They immediately recognized chemistry between them and exchanged telephone numbers. They kept in contact developing a long distant relationship for one year. After this time they felt serious enough about each other that Mickey made a commitment to move to Fort Pierce, Florida and on December 28, 1998 they joined in holy matrimony, continuing to this day to enjoy holy marital bliss and blessedness.
A few years later, Margaret met a parent of her eldest son who invited her to come to a praise team rehearsal. Margaret came to the rehearsal and to her surprised she was in familiar territory. Margaret recognized the home as the house she used to visit as a young teenager standing out in the yard and the road listening to a rhythm and blues band rehearse, made up a young men. Once inside the home, Margaret recognized the Pastor as “BaeBae” the leader of the band she listened to so long ago. She also recognized his wife and another member, Pauline. Margaret felt at home with everyone as she was acquainted with everyone there. Margaret joined the praise team immediately without hesitation and then joined the church, PureFire Ministries, later bringing her whole family in. PureFire Ministries has formed a recording section called K.W.A. Ministries, Kingdom Word Abide Ministries, where Margaret is both a lead and background vocalist. Margaret is also actively involved in the new album , Kingdom Mandate, featuring the new hit single "Jehovah Rules!!!" released October 13, 2009.
Margaret has been an active member of PureFire Ministries, Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors. Margaret’s love for the Lord has grown with her experience with PureFire Ministries and K.W.A. Ministries. She has also seen her family changed and her own skills and talents increase with this involvement and experience. Margaret expresses much thanks to Pastor Russ and Karleen for the opportunities afforded her but mostly she gives thanks to God for bringing her full circle to this point in her life where she has returned to the home not just as a spectator but as an active participant in the calling that God has given her and that is to ministry His word through song giving Him honor and glory.
Reginald Thomas - Writer, Composer, Bass player and keyboardist, Lead and backgroud vocalist
On the 29th day of the 3rd month in the year 1957, Reginald Jerome Thomas Sr. was born to Larry and Sadie Mae Thomas in Fort Pierce Florida where he grew up and attended the public school system. Born the 7th of 7 children, Reginald developed an appreciation for music early in life. The family would often gather around the dinner table after supper to sing old spirituals and hymns. Inspired by these family gatherings, Reginald began singing in church, in high school he joined the chorus, and was known to participate in local talent events where he won prizes.
Reginald’s love for music inspired him to progress to musical instruments and augmented his ability. He is self taught in playing the guitar, bass guitar, drums and keyboards. Armed with these new gifts and talents, he formed his first band called “The Originals” as a teenager. In Junior High School he met Willie James Russ Jr., a close personal friend who also shared his love for music and together they formed a band called “The Next of Kin”. Playing at popular social events the band endured 7 years, after which they went their separate ways.
After high school graduation, Reginald began touring across the country with various bands. He returned home after a few years where he settled down and married his childhood sweetheart, Sidney, unto this union were born 3 children. During this time Reginald joined a church and began playing keyboard for his church choir. Reginald held the position of Choir Director and even formed a gospel ensemble called “Partners in Praise” with which he began to feature original compositions.
Reginald and his friend, Willie Russ, would see each other around town at different events and would talk about getting together. But one day in early 2006, Willie Russ came to his home and asked him to join a coalition called Kingdom Word Abide (K.W.A.) thus the reunification of Reginald and Willie transpired into a spiritual work. Where they played together in the past in a secular arena they have found that God has indeed brought them full circle to play together which they both believe to be God’s ultimate plan for their lives.
Reginald is a member of Allen Chapel A.M.E. where he serves as one of the musicians. Reginald also writes and composes songs to the honor and glory of God; by the grace and will of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ his life has truly come full circle. Reginald and Willie often remind each other of this unique course in their lives and proclaim that their purpose in life now is to give honor, praise and glory to God forevermore.