Making the unlikely transition from Gospel to R&B has not been as difficult as Tarralyn Ramsey once envisioned. As a matter of fact, it has seemingly bolstered her career in both arenas. Tarralyn is a startling talent at the age of 22, already having shared stages with music’s most prominent figures. Her self-titled debut is proof positive that this beautiful Florida native is definitely here to stay.
As one of the first acts featured on Tommy Mottola’s all-new Casablanca record label (distributed by Universal), Tarralyn’s first order of business is to show her fans that she has a song in her heart, thunder in her voice, and God by her side to keep it all together. In a recent conversation with Allhiphop.com Alternatives, she talks about her fusion of many musical styles and how she intends to make them blend as one.
Allhiphop.com Alternatives: As I am talking to you, I have your debut album playing in the background, and I really dig it. Talk about it for a moment if you could.
Tarralyn Ramsey: My record is a record that obviously has a lot of different styles of music, but it’s definitely R&B. My new single is called ‘Remedy’, and it is my baby. I love singing ‘Remedy’ - it’s a song about a girl who was in this relationship with this guy and he was messing up! [laughs] His only excuse was he got caught up one night, and she doesn’t want to hear any reasons why. She meets this new guy that’s her cure from pain. It’s a great song.
AHHA: Do you have that same passion for any other song on the album? Are you going to feature another song with a similar message or a similar vibe?
TR: Another song on the record that I really love is ‘Up Against All Odds’. This song is a testimonial; it’s very emotional and it lets you know that you can overcome any struggle and any kind of pain that you have. It’s the typical overcoming and powerful type of song.
AHHA: You were one of the featured acts at the 'Born To Diva' show on VH-1 sometime ago. Was that event the defining moment in your career to that point? You were amongst some legitimate legends in music.
TR: I feel like the 'Born To Diva' competition was definitely the start of my secular career. The defining moment for me was when Tommy [Mottola] called the studio and told me I’d sung a song very well. I was freaking out! [laughs] He said he thought I had an exceptional talent and a voice like mine hadn’t come around in a long time. That was definitely my pivotal moment.
AHHA: Were you the least bit intimidated being surrounded by such an exceptional group of talent that night?
TR: I think it kind of tripped me out when I was on the red carpet and Beyonce walked past. Then, you saw Ashanti, Chaka Khan, and all these legendary people. It was really amazing. I had actually been on tour with Mary J. Blige before, so I knew how she performed, but to be on the same stage with all those world-renowned people was amazing. I don’t think I was ever intimidated; I just felt like I took my rightful place.
AHHA: I think that is the kind of confidence that younger people such as yourself and I need to exude on a consistent basis. As the old saying goes, ‘closed mouths don’t get fed.’
TR: That’s right!
AHHA: Share with me some of the positive feedback you received after the curtain dropped that night.
TR: Jewel was really nice and said I had a really beautiful voice. Sharon Osbourne had some nice words for me. Beyonce caught me backstage and congratulated me. Ashanti was also very pleasant and really sweet. They showed me some love.
AHHA: Now, you come from a very deep rooted gospel background. My natural assumption would be that you got your start during that time, right?
TR: I started singing in church, and I sang my first solo when I was three years old. My mother was the minister of music at my church. Some years after that, we had this very prominent youth choir in our town. It was the ‘it’ choir; everyone wanted to join our choir, but you had to be at least sixteen to get in. I was only twelve at the time, but they let me audition and let me in the choir. Once I got in the choir, it was over from there! A lot of people asked me do solos, then I became the funeral singer, the wedding singer, and anywhere else I could sing. Eventually, I landed a gospel record deal and recorded a gospel album.
AHHA: Did jumping from the gospel scene to secular music get you any objections from church members or close family members?
TR: Obviously, everybody was concerned, so I can’t say everything was peachy keen. I can honestly say that I got my objections, but we sat down and talked it out. Everybody was able to see my vision for what it really was.
AHHA: Of course, God and religious subject matter play a big role in your music, but is there any other particular message that you try to bring across more so than others?
TR: I want people to know that when I sing, I’m singing from my heart. There’s an emotion that you feel, and it’s real. You know how some music is just raw and real? That’s what I feel I bring to the table; just the rawness and realness of a voice.
AHHA: I think you and I both know that realness and rawness of that nature does not necessarily translate into gospel in the church. Are you still welcomed with the same open arms that greeted you before your transition?
TR: Believe it or not, when you are just a gospel artist, you don’t get a lot of shows. Now that I’m a secular artist, everybody wants me to sing! [laughs] When I was just doing that, and I was still the same talented person that I am now, my phone wasn’t ringing. It’s very interesting how people gravitate to what appears to be big.
AHHA: The bottom line is things change with time, and gospel is no different. If you notice nowadays, the gospel artists are wearing earrings, chains and ‘worldly’ items like that. Things are moving, but the message remains the same.
TR: I don’t mean to go spiritual, but even God sat amongst criminals, thieves, and murderers. You can over spiritualize it, but the fact of the matter is gospel people are trying to incorporate secular music to sell more records. If you go and buy a lot of these gospel records, you’ll hear Timbaland’s influence, Rodney Jerkins’s influence, or any of the other hot producers. They are even starting to dance in their videos now, so everybody understands that you have to move with the times.
For more information about Tarralyn and upcoming projects, please visit http://www.tarralyn-ramsey.com.