Full Name: Ralph Edward Tresvant (properly pronounced Tre'-Vaunt), Jr.
Nicknames: Rizz, Mr. Sensitivity, etc.
Birthdate: May 16, 1968
Astro Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Roxbury, Mass.
Parents: Patricia Ann Tresvant (RIP), Ralph Edward Tresvant, Sr.
Siblings: Sister- LaTonya Ann Tresvant, Brother- Andre Tresvant
Favorite Foods: Seafood, Soulfood
Favorite Sport: Basketball
Self-description: "Shy and quiet at times"
Favorite Color: Red
Instruments Played: Keyboard, Drums
Hobbies: anything to do with music
Habits: Gritting his teeth
Other Facts: Started walking at about 9 months, tried to say "Mama" and "Dada" at 7 or 8 months but didn't hold conversations until about 1 1/2
Ralph Tresvant was born premature on May 16, 1968 to Patricia Tresvant and Ralph Hall, Sr. Ralph grew up in an apartment in the Orchard Park Development of Roxbury, Massachusetts on #8 Adams Street. He says about growing up in the projects, "We were really poor and real pressured; but I had a strong family, and that's what helped me keep it all together."
Ralph loved karate films as a child, especially Bruce Lee. New Edition's Michael Bivins says, "Ricky, Bobby, and I always wanted to perform, and we'd enter competitions without Ralph knowing and sometimes, an hour before we were to go on stage, we'd call him. He'd be at home watching karate films with his little brother and he'd go, 'Oh, man, I don't think I wanna do that,' and we'd say, 'How can we do the song if you're not here?' and we'd get him out."
School has also always seemed more important to Ralph than music. When he joined New Edition, he wasn't sure how serious he should be about his music. Even when New Edition released their debut album, he still wasn't sure a music career at such an early age was worth quitting school for. He still wanted to live up to his parents insistence of him staying in school.
"I just couldn't see any future in the music thing," he once admitted. "I mean, it was fun and all; but I was under so much pressure to get good grades and stay in school, it just didn't seem real."
Obviously, it was real. New Edition's first single, "Candy Girl," hit #1 on the Pop charts in Canada and the UK. Finally, after some "heavy discussions" with his family, Ralph and his family decided that a career in music might not be as bad as they once thought. And by New Edition's All For Love album, Ralph was a teen sex symbol with hundreds of girls longing to meet him.
Bobby Brown left New Edition in 1987 to persue a solo career and was replaced by Johnny Gill, who had been a friend of the members since Candy Girl. Johnny already had a few hits with Stacy Lattisaw, and since the group wanted someone with status, he joined the group.
Ralph explains, "There was a lot of talent in the group that people weren't noticing. See, in the group we were all kind of playing a role; but something that could show people who we really were as individuals."
Ralph's statement proved to be true. Bobby Brown was one of the top R&B male performers with his "bad boy" image. Johnny Gill, who has a gospel voice but mostly sings R&B music, is one of the most respected artists in R&B. Bell Biv DeVoe was also a huge success with their new hip-hop sound. This success made people wonder where New Edition's soft-spoken lead singer, Ralph, was.
"I was trying to decide which way to go. Should I try to fit in with what people wanted me to be? Or should I just be what I feel? I wanted to wait until I was sure I could do the right thing."
Ralph couldn't decide what to do, so he went to the same people who helped him decide if he should have a career in music - his family. They, again, helped him decide which way to go.
"I decided to go with what I'm really all about - standing up for family values and speaking to anybody who's willing to go against all the things going against them. When you get down to it, there's nothing much you can do except go along with what you're worth. That's the message I'm trying to get out."
Once again, Ralph and his family made the right choice. His first single, "Sensitivity," was #1 on the R&B charts and #4 on the Pop charts for 20 weeks. His self-titled debut album also featured the hits "Rated R," "Stone Cold Gentleman," and "Do What I Gotta Do," which was #4 on the R&B charts. With all this, critics named Ralph the "Gentleman of Soul." His voice has even compared to entertainers such as Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin.
Ralph smiles at the comparison but says, "I wasn't trying to be like anyone. I just went into the studio and tried to make the best album I could. If anything, the only man I tried to copy is my dad. My dad is a very well-dressed man with a lot of style.
"Another thing I wanted to accomplish with the release of my solo album was to show my female fans that I really appreciate them and respect them. There are a lot of guys out there doing something different with their music, but I couldn't see doing that. I made sure that on my songs I hold ladies in high esteem."
Ralph admits, though, that until "Sensitivity" came out, he was nervous about the album. "I didn't know how it was going to work out. The other guys from New Edition kept reassuring me. Actually, the success of the BBD album and the Johnny Gill solo album paved the way for me. All the same, I was nervous until the single was released and I realized how the radio stations were picking up on it."
However, as successful as the album was, Ralph still says that family comes first. "I keep my mother with me. We keep family at heart and in mind first and that keeps everything in perspective. Ain't no way you can fall off if you keep family first."
With this statement, Ralph just might be one of the most eloquent spokesmen that the industry has on the subject of family and positive values. He also considers his bandmates family and can get somewhat upset if you ask him when New Edition broke up.
"We're still together," he'd tell you very quickly and firmly. "Maybe we haven't worked with each other for a while, but we're to do a tour and an album in the future - and not too far off, either. You have my word on that. See, New Edition is like a tree - a very special tree, because everything else has grown off of it - and you gotta keep the roots stong and keep watering it; because that's where the support is, and that's what the message is all about."
"It's a pride thing," he says, explaining what the message he speaks about is. "No matter what you are, who you are or where you came from, you always gotta stick together. That's where your strength comes from; and as long as you stay positive, you can't ever make a mistake."
Unfortunately, Ralph's second album titled It's Goin' Down didn't do nearly as well as his debut did because it wasn't well promoted by MCA. The other guys' number of hits also went down. Therefore, New Edition finally began working on the reunion album. After much discussion over what to title the reunion album, Ralph himself came up with the title Home Again, and the other members agreed.
Ralph explains, "When we did the last run, between that, the concert support and things we wanted to do with those projects, it never elevated up to another level. So up to a certain point, we just kind of left them alone."
Even though the last solo projects before the reunion didn't give much benefit to the members, it certainly helped New Edition.
"Had those second attempts been as successful as the first ones, we wouldn't be here right now," Ralph said.
However, Ralph also says that even though New Edition brought R&B male acts up to another level, people don't seem to understand just what New Edition did for R&B and Pop when they came out. "No one wanted to take a chance on young new acts. It wasn't the trend, but it resurfaced thanks to us. Yes, we did open a lot of doors, but we didn't get the recognition we should have received. It started with five guys from the projects. We have to make fans realize the significance of it all; it adds to the story. If we do a movie or a book, people will begin to understand the plan. A lot of people said it would be over before it got started."
Many people might think that with all the success New Edition had, the members would change. Even as teenagers, though, New Edition concentrated more on their work than on bragging about their success.
"We never boasted about what we did. We sold more albums as individuals than we did as a group. We had people around us who never wanted us to know how big we were. Success was going right by us. People felt we were going to take something away from them," Ralph explains.
One might wonder how Ralph feels about the reunion. "It feels great," he says. "Things are different -everyone has their own career on addition to the group - but it feels good for us all to back together and working."
Ralph also says, "It's familiar to us but it's different now because we have to be more aware of time management as a group. Hanging out is familiar to us, though. But actually, nothing has been subtracted. The wisdom is still there, but everyone's a man now and everyone understands that our personal lives pretty much come first."
He says, "I want to show people a guy who came from a rough part of town, but through family upbringing and music, made a good life for himself."
Ralph is currently working on a third solo album, which is due out later this year. He has also started his own record company, Rated R Records. Ralph, according to Billboard Online, is also teaming up with Ricky and Bobby to form a new group. The name of the group is not known, but the album will be titled Triple Threat.
Earlier this year, Ralph traveled the East and Mid-West United States in a hilarious gospel musical called "Sugar Daddy." Ralph played "Jake Henderson," one of the main characters. For more information on the play, please e-mail me.