Interview With Tarralyn Ramsey
Being Young, and Living Saved

When you talk to Tarralyn Ramsey you quickly find a mature perspective that matches the mature voice that flows on her debut project. She is a warm person that seems to have a burden for people. That burden is something comes along with her calling to minister to the hearts of men through song.

Tarraln Ramsey"I love people. I love different types of people. You can't do this without being a people person. It'll never work. You can't be a Gospel singer and not love people, because you have concerns for their souls."

That weight for the things of God, began at a very young age. Ramsey says that she was sure of her calling at the age of eleven, when she found that her ministry didn't stop with singing. "[Things] progressed from just singing. Then it got to the preaching aspect of it around eleven and twelve. [But] to be very honest with you it gets to a point where you [just] want to be a singer. At first, I was totally loving Whitney Houston —just infatuated with her whole little lifestyle, and infatuated with her voice — just wanting to be Whitney.

"But then when I would get up and sing at a church and I would see the reaction the church people would have, and it would get to a point where I would begin ministering in the middle of a song —that's when I came to know that this was so much bigger than a vocal thing. This is so much bigger than just singing. I know that this is my ministry."

Ramsey preached her first sermon at twelve, which would cause some to be skeptical. What could possibly be the catalyst for a young girl to preach the Gospel? Was it all an act? Something she was coached or told to do? "No! I just knew! Nobody ever told me. I always had a relationship with God and I remember Him telling me that I'm going to use you to do this or that.' [At that time] I just started feeling different and being more in tune to God.

"I remember singing a song at a concert and it got to a place where the atmosphere Tarraln Ramseystarted to change. And a lot of people don't know about atmosphere changes, but you can get to a place in a service where the anointing just totally falls and it's at a whole other level. It got to a place where singing wouldn't get to the people. You had to just minister to [their hearts]. And that's when I knew!" And that ministering in song graduated to the pulpit.

It is difficult enough to have the mantle of ministry on one's head, and even more so if you happen to be simultaneously dealing with adolescence. At an age where most of us are just trying to figure out who we are, Ramsey was finding out who she was in God —something many grown folk struggle with for years. Adults and children alike weren't sure of what to make of it.

"I got lots of different reactions. Some were intrigued. Some were like 'This cannot be real'. But the majority of the people [around me] really supported me, and knew that it was real. Because it was not something that I could just get up and do [on my own power]. I think more than anything it was the knowledge and the wisdom that came with it. It's not like I just started talking about things that I didn't know anything about. No. Wisdom was imparted to me, and I began to say things that [
fit with what people knew to be true.]"

As a result
, Ramsey has had an interesting road that she likens an unlikely biblical personality.

"In a weird sort of way I love the Job story. I know that's kind of strange because he was an older man and he had obtained a lot of things. [But] I totally identify with his story. I know I'm young, but I come from a really good family that had "things", but in a sense I've really been by myself. The spiritual walk is a lonely walk and being anointed is really lonely, because you're going through things by yourself. You can be in a crowd of people and feel like you're alone, just because there's something different about you.

"I talked to my sixth grade teacher the other night. She said 'Tarralyn, do you remember when you were in my class? In school you were always like twenty-five?' And that is true! I got along with all my teachers —we were like best friends— and never really understood [my age group]. I never really got a chance to be eleven and twelve. I was always older. I understand now that
this was because I was anointed and I was different and was really seeking God. I was [beginning to preach] then so I was totally in a different world than my friends."

On her recently released project
(see review), Ramsey had the opportunity to work with many different producers.  "Everybody offered a different feel and a different type of song. You have Donald Lawrence, he was the more traditional producer, and then you have Tonéx, who was off the chain — urban and everything! It all kind of just goes together. I love it all!"

She has been compared vocally to the likes of Yolanda Adams, Karen Clark and Whitney Houston and counts it an honor to be mentioned in the same breath. "You have the greats in Gospel —Yolanda and Karen— and when I Tarraln Ramsey CDlisten to myself sing
, I don't think I sound like Karen Clark. She' s bad! And then Yolanda, I hear similarities there. Now Whitney, yes, that's all I listened to. I used to practice singing like her —trying to be Whitney It's a big honor. I hope I can live up to it!"

As for how she balances being young and being holy she says "It's not in what you wear
, it's not in how you dress. It's about relationship. I could have a dress on and it could be to the floor and not be saved. You have to go beyond the clothes and look and [really] see. I know people judge you on how you look and carry yourself. Personally I love long skirts, I went through a period where I did the whole long skirt thing, but now I'm 20 and I want to look fresh and young and yet and still look saved and sanctified. It's not in the clothes. I just really believe that you can 't judge a book by its cover. Holiness is a lifestyle. It's not in the look or in the way you wear your clothes or hair. It's in your heart."

Having the opportunity of a lifetime to share her heart with the masses is just about more than she can take. "I was just sitting here crying.
F or so many years, I've waited for this and gone through things and never really understood why I was going through this or going through that. But I understand now, because [with] everything I've gone through, I'll be able to minister to somebody else and tell them, 'You know I've been there. I know what it takes to be delivered and Tarraln Ramseystay delivered. I know how to be twenty years old and live holy —maybe not be perfect— and yet still falter and fall. But, I know how to tell another young woman or young man, this is what you have to do stay saved."

And is the cost of being different worth the preciousness of the call? "There are times
, even now, that I look at other people and think 'Why can't I just be like them?' [And the answer to that is] because the responsibility of ministry on my life is so great and because I understand the magnitude of people I have to touch. [I understand] that my living saved and being where God wants me to be —so many peoples' lives depend on just me being right.

At one time I was like 'God why?' But I count it an honor now and I count it a privilege because so many people are struggling trying to get what I've got, and don't know what it cost
.   So I'm just grateful."

interview by Melanie Clark

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