Tye Tribbett Continues to Make a ‘Joyful Noise’
Award-winning gospel artist, Tye Tribbett has come a long way in his music career. Since getting into the business nearly 20 years ago, Tribbett has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry—both secular and religious. Five studio albums later, Tribbett is more popular than ever and working on a new album while he gears up to host BET’s a Joyful Noise.
JET recently spoke with the Camden, New Jersey native about the new shifts he’s making in his career, what he’s learned during his time in the industry, and what advice he can impart to upcoming artists.
JET: You have come a long way from Camden, New Jersey. What would you say to the artist who is just starting out, but is having a hard time envisioning themselves being successful?
Tye Tribbett: Well, I started as a musician in church, then in the ranks of that small church, graduated to choir director. I never really had a goal to be a choir director or in front of people or anything. I know things are a little different now these days with all of the wonderful platforms like Sunday’s Best, American Idol and things like that. There are different platforms [these days], but it also breeds a certain level of aggressive ambition in this generation and this culture. Whereas, back when I was coming up and starting out, that wasn’t there. So, I was content. I think that contentment brought a wholesomeness and a purity to my craft that I think we’re losing now because everyone is going into the craft to be on those platforms.
So, I would tell the person who is where I was to enjoy that space and be content. Understand that is your success. People are being touched, whether it’s 20 or 20,000. People are being touched every week at your church. People are being blessed by what you do, and by the music you play. There were only about 50 people in my church for years! My brother and I, we revolutionized the music in our church—and we loved doing it every week! That was our Grammy, our Stellar Award or Dove award.
My fear now is that people who are in those positions are now kind of looking outside the window wishing, “Man, I wish I could do more,” or “Man, they’re doing this, I’m as good as them,” and that didn’t exist with me at that point, which is why when I was finally booked on the forefront, I believe the gifting was cultivated. It was pure and it was strong. It impacted larger groups of people in the same ways that we had already been doing on a smaller level.
JET: What has surprised you the most in your journey so far?
Tribbett: The consistency of God! The Bible says a man plans, but God directs. I have a lot of plans and a lot of visions. But, you never know how something you plan to do is going to really work out – that part is never guaranteed. So to me, the consistency of God, His grace, His favor—all of it consistently surprises me. In my career, I was surprised to get the Grammys, and that was great! There’s so much I could mention, but overall if I look back, the one thing that consistently amazes me the consistency of his goodness and His grace.
JET: Speaking of God’s favor, tell us about your new role in the new TV Show, Joyful Noise.
Tribbett: We knew that Bobby Jones was retiring, but I had no idea that BET planned on continuing in that time slot with another show. We got a call from BET to come audition, so, we went. Even though other hosts and artists auditioned as well, we got a callback saying that they wanted to move forward with me as the host. Bobby Jones is an icon and a legend. So, for God to allow them to choose me to continue with it is mind blowing and I’m floored by it!
JET: Are you nervous about this new role?
Tribbett: Yes! I was a nervous wreck at the audition! When I got there, I didn’t even have a chance to do a run-through, and there was a lot that just didn’t happen right on the audition day. I just had to trust and remind myself that God has me here. We’re taping at the end of this month and I find the nerves coming back again. But, I feel like I’m ready and we’re excited about it. I’ve hosted the Stellar Awards, and I’m doing the Dove Awards this year, but I have never hosted anything as consistent as this show. This will be different, but I’m ready!
JET: For those who haven’t heard your new music release, what can fans expect from your newest project “Bloody Win?”
Tribbett: I just finished Part 1 and Part 2 of my new album “Bloody Win.” We also just completed our GA reunion in Philly! I started GA in 1996, so this is 20 years for us and I wanted to commemorate that journey. So the plan was to start with the new album, and then go all the way back to my beginning days. We wanted to take people on a journey of what God has done through this ministry.
JET: You have always pushed the envelope with your music! It can even be seen in your past collaborations. Is it true that you worked with Faith Hill and Justin Timberlake?
Tribbett: Correct! That was very fun! It was in our early years before we even got signed to a label. We were just singing background and working in Philly out of The Roots studio. So, everyone that would come in the studio, we would literally just jump on the track. When I say everybody, I mean everybody. Jessica Simpson—we’re on her Christmas album—Timberland put us on some work Justin Timberlake was doing, Mary J. Blige, Will Smith, LL Cool J, and that was all just studio work. We literally traveled with Faith Hill, Don Henley, Tim McGraw, Luther Vandross, Gloria Estefan, Leann Rimes…we did a lot! It’s been an incredible journey.
JET: Have those past experiences fueled your desire to keep taking chances with your sound in gospel music in the way that you have over the years?
Tribbett: I would say that it gave me an expansive view. It expanded my view from the 50-70 member church that I was working in, to realizing, “Whoa! There’s a whole world out there!” Coming to that realization helped me to shape my sound because I wanted to reach them as well. So, it kind of gave me an expansive view and an expansive ear to let myself really be free to create music that’s not just isolated for the church.
JET: On a previous episode of BET’s Lift Every Voice, you mentioned that your focus was to “cultivate the hearts of this new wave of worshippers.” Tell us about that.
Tribbett: It’s like I mentioned in the beginning; my fear was the praise and worship genre was getting sensationalized. David wrote music out of his adoration and worship to God. There were no record deals back then; there were no publishing deals, or American Idols back then. I know we can probably never go completely back to where that is, but I still don’t want it to be so watered down and limited or minimized to product and industry. I want to in some way, keep the integrity of praise and worship, which is our heart posture towards God.
I want to grab the younger generation and let them know I know the clothes look fly, you can be on TV, and do the videos and dress like Kanye and Jay. That’s cool and those are all perks. But the reason why we do this—the heart—that’s what I’m talking about. I want to cultivate the heart to have a sincere posture towards praise and worship/gospel music so the integrity won’t be lost. I don’t want to lose the potency of the gospel.
JET: In addition to everything, we learned that you are starting your own church.
Tribbett: Yes, our focus groups started in May, and our first service will be on September 25th in Orlando, Florida. We recently moved to Orlando, not to start a church, but just to live. But, once we got there, God just started speaking to me about the area, what’s needed there, and what He wanted me to bring there. There are a lot of things happening right now, but I am most excited about this church in this season.
JET: God is really opening new doors for you; do you have any other projects we should know about?
Tribbett: Well, I’m low key finally working on a record label. We have a deal with Motown now and I’m finally going to start developing artists and putting out more new great music—not just for myself—but also for other artists who I really believe in.
JET: Do you have any final words of advice for this generation of artists?
Tribbett: My prayer and my hope is that this generation will gravitate towards those things that are lovely and pure and godly. That’s the mark. You know Paul says, “I press towards the mark.” I understand the temptations of this culture, the weight and the pressures of this society. I’m in it as well and I fall short sometimes also. But, let there at least be a mark. Let’s get a mark and let’s press towards it.