False ME237 what the MC’s at the program said. They said “ you still got it!” What is really funny about that is they made it sound [ as if] I left Jesus and I didn’t have it anymore. It was hilarious, but it was cute, too. MEME2: What is the title of the album that you are in the process of finishing? Tarralyn Ramsey: The album is entitled Beyond The Darkness. MEME2: With a title such as that, there has to be some meaning or intent behind it. Tarralyn Ramsey: Well, when we called it Beyond The Darkness, it was kind of like “ I’m beyond the dark days.” [ The days of] controlling me and people telling me what to do and how to do it are over. I am coming into my own, so that’s why we titled it Beyond The Darkness. The album itself, along with the song titles, tells a story. It kind of follows a storyline of a lot of my past experiences. Technically speaking, it means you are no longer walking in darkness, but you are walking into the light. When you are being lead, you are in the dark. But, when you take control, you are walking into the light. For me, that encompasses the Tarprincel Entertainment Group and all of that. MEME2: Is there a tentative release date for the album? Tarralyn Ramsey: We haven’t set a physical release date for the album yet. I have a distribution deal with CSD, and we were originally supposed to put the album out in May. Since we haven’t come up with a release date as of yet, I am trying to finish recording the album very soon. I am thinking that the album will be released before the third quarter of this year. We do have dual singles out, called “ God Handle It,” and “ Feel Your Presence Again.” We have them online, and people can purchase them and receive a free gift. You can order them from http:// www. tarralynramsey. com or http:// www. myspace. com/ tarralynramsey. You can also purchase any other music that I have ever made. MEME2: Personally, I have noticed a lot of gospel artists vacillate between the secular world and the gospel world, or in this particular case, the darkness and the light. Is that something that you have ever had to struggle with in the past? Tarralyn Ramsey: This may sound cliché, but as much as my voice has been a blessing, in many ways it has been a curse. Big music executives and big people will hear my voice and say, “ oh my god, we’re going to do this with it!” But, they never sit down and try to figure out what it is that I want to do with it. You can only sell that which is real. But, if you look at the most successful artists, they are the ones that encompasses being 100% real with their music. We buy their albums because we feel what they feel. Let’s take Alicia Keys as an example. When Alicia Keys writes songs, those songs are real to her. She plays the piano and she writes those songs. For me, I’ve always been the girl that has this big voice and all people would say was “ sing this,” or “ sing that.” Whether or not it was right or wrong, they wanted me to sing that. I can be your Whitney Houston type of an artist, but I can also take you straight to church! My story [ has not] changed. I can still stand in a coliseum and sing you a beautiful ballad, but I’m also the same girl that you can put in a good ol’ country church. MEME2: Explain some of the benefits of owning your record label, as opposed to just being an artist and jumping through the hoops that being an artist sometimes requires.
False ME238 Tarralyn Ramsey: One of the advantages is instead of having [ other] people make decisions, the buck stops with me. [ For example], how I like to wear my hair, how I like to present myself, the song selections and how the songs are actually structured on the album are decisions I can make. I don’t have 20 people making those decisions without me being included in them and just handing me a schedule. Second of all, if you know anything about owning a record company, once you know that the album is marketed and distributed correctly, you make more money [ per] album. On the financial end, it has not 100% promising as of yet because I have to spend money in order to make money. But, once the album comes out and it’s marketed and promoted, I will make back all of the money that I put into it. Financially, it’s better than having a regular contract. MEME2: In listening to your fellow gospel artists talk about their album contracts, oftentimes they are referred to as “ chitlin’ deals.” Is that what they mean when they talk about these very small contracts that they are presented with? These contracts are not feasible financially, but sometimes they have no choice but to take it. Tarralyn Ramsey: I can’t really identify with that because when I signed my first gospel contract, I had no control over that because I was a minor. They call them “ chitlin’ deals” because they are deals that aren’t that good. The dollars and the cents in the gospel world definitely vary from the dollars and the cents in the secular world. And if you think about it, some of the best voices [ in the world] are in gospel music. A gospel artist can be just as talented as a secular artist, but we definitely don’t make the money. In the secular world, you can make $ 150,000 to $ 250,000 a night and sign a multi- million dollar contract and get a $ 200,000 advance. If you get a $ 50,000 advance in gospel music, you are doing really [ well], and that’s not probable most times. Most people won’t ever get an opportunity to put their gospel music out and get it on the radio. But, if you are blessed enough to get the opportunity, then you will take a “ chitlin’ deal” and figure that’s your only possibility of being successful. MEME2: You have been one of the rare ones to have good success. Tell the readers about some of the things that you have had to go through to get to where you are today. Tarralyn Ramsey: Well, you know I did the whole VH- 1 ( Born To Diva) thing in 2003 and won that competition. Prior to that, I put out a gospel album in 2000. I also did some other things, like the Seventeen Magazine tour, the Pantene tour and a college tour. After all of that, I got out of my deal and didn’t do much at all. I stepped away and didn’t want to do the music thing for a minute. I kind of got to a point where I said, “ this is my life and this is how I pay my bills.” Not only that, I got to a point where I said, “ this is my music.” It is important that when I get on a stage to sing, I can go sing these songs night after night because they are a part of me. They’re not some fictitious story that I have to somehow make real. I have been trying to get myself together and get acclimated to doing the music thing again, whether it [ is] universal and/ or gospel music. Universal music talks about everything. Gospel music just talks about Jesus and the spiritual connotations of that. My problem has been with people trying to keep me in a box. When I open my mouth to sing, whether or not it’s straight up universal or straight up gospel, you sense the presence of God or feel something that you have never felt. I feel as if I always have to explain myself to people as to who I am. Now, I’m at a point where people get it or they don’t. Not in a disrespectful way, though. People see what I do. I’m not on the stage wearing daisy dukes. The picture that we have of secular music is girls in the music videos singing songs about sex or selling sex. That is not what I do. If you listen to my new gospel music, I’m talking about feeling the presence of the Lord again. Whether or not you are in gospel or secular music, you have to have the presence of God. In order to be successful, you have to have some sort of connection with God. MEME2: Describe some of the philosophies that you live by and what keeps you strong in the midst of difficult circumstances. Tarralyn Ramsey: You need God in everything that you do. It doesn’t matter if you are a famous actress, a Fortune 500 company owner or a student in school. In whatever you are endeavoring to do, you have to have God. The one thing that I hold on to is when God says that above all things, He wants you to prosper even as your soul prospers. That’s powerful, because God is basically saying yes, I want you prosper and yes, I want you to be successful, but in the midst of your prospering, I need your soul to prosper as well. I want to minister to people. A lot of people won’t come to church, but they will play my song. A lot of people won’t meet me at a prayer meeting, but they will meet at a concert. Jesus has blessed me. When I was broken inside and nobody understood why, He healed my broken heart. Most prostitutes won’t walk into a church, but they’ll see a girl that looks like me and they will identify with something that they see inside of me. They will want to feel what it is that I feel. It’s not the beauty that I got; it’s the Jesus that I got, and they will want to know what I had to do to get it. All you have to do is open your mouth and confess Him as Lord and Savior.