Tye Tribbett Interview
Why Tye Tribbett Rocks - for Jesus!
The Energetic Music Minister Speaks from His Heart
By Shamerra T. Brown
Tye and Shante Tribbett are reclining in the family area of their south New Jersey
home. It’s bitter cold outside but the vibe inside their dwelling place is welcoming
and cozy. Extended time at home is a rarity for the Tribbetts, so this quiet winter
day is one they are savoring.
They had a busy and challenging year in 2005. A grueling schedule, with many
stops for ministry, the loss of an uncle, the tragic death of one of their faithful choir
members, and too much more to mention, would give the young couple the much-
deserved right to take a break.
The 30-year-old minister of music, widely known for his energetic stage delivery,
has gained a steady following, along with his preppy-clad ensemble of 10 years,
Greater Anointing. Their debut CD, Life (2004 Sony Urban Gospel/Columbia
Records), sent messages to folks young and old, about the highs and lows of well,
life, and on it, he never ceased to point to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ as the
solution to everything (one song dedicated to the Savior was aptly titled,
“Everything”). Tye even boldly declared, before millions on the 2005 BET Awards,
that he and his group “represent the Kingdom of God.”
But aside from the acclaimed debut album, a wide fan base including several A-list
celebrities, and a jumping, message-filled sophomore live recording, Victory - Live ,
set for release in late May, Tye’s life is surprisingly normal. After making a quick run
to the local grocery store to get his family some breakfast, Tye zips down to the
basement for what I later learned was an encounter with God. Having the privilege
of sitting in on a G.A. rehearsal, eye-witnessing the standing-room-only recording
for Victory - Live , and talking to the musical genius, I can imagine what his private
praise is like.
An hour or so later he makes his way upstairs. During our interview, he was cool
and talkative, but it was quite evident that Tye had been in the presence of God.
He didn’t emerge from the basement with a halo over his head, but his demeanor
told of a glorious story. We made our way to the dining room table (which, by the
way, is fit for any dignitary) where Tye munched on breakfast with Shante, and
talked to me about his passion for Christ, his memo to Satan to “let God’s people
go,” and his message of deliverance to all who will listen (and be delivered).
As we conversed, I understood that there is a definite reason for his ebullient
praise when he’s on stage. It’s actually very simple. Tye seems to have a binding
pact with God - a commitment to studying, teaching, and living according to the
Word - passionately. It is clear that the supernatural joy God gave Tye is necessary
for this and all generations that he will reach.
Shamerra T. Brown: You’re probably one of those people who’s been “saved all
your life,” but how old were you when you gave your life to Christ and actually
started living for Him?
Tye Tribbett: This morning...I do it everyday, but officially around the age of 19.
STB: At what point did you decide to pursue your music ministry on a professional
TT: Well I was always ministering in church. Like, my goal was to play [music] for
Hezekiah Walker or John P. Kee. My goal was to play on the Stellar Awards. So, to
be in front singing, it’s like God has gone way beyond my expectations.
STB: Are you the musical director for G.A.?
TT: No, my brother Thaddeus is. I write most of the music, present it to them [the
band] and they just take it to glory.
STB: From your leadership perspective, what is the main ingredient that makes
“Tye Tribbett & G.A.” work? There’s a fire, something really different and even
special about your group, what is it?
TT: It’s definitely the anointing, I won’t even front. But we didn’t start off with the
Word as our foundation.
TT: Nah, we just wanted to play [music] and sing really. And then after a while, in
rehearsals, I had like 100 choir members at the time, and I think there are like 18
now...Everybody went to their own churches, so then we’d get together in
rehearsals, but I didn’t know where everybody was spiritually. I said, let me just read
a Scripture so y’all will know where I am. So we started TAG (talk about God)
sessions, where I’d read a Scripture then we’d talk about God. Then that kind of
grew into Bible study. This was probably a year after we started singing, so it wasn’t
like we were going for years without a foundation...Also, getting back to the
anointing, I read that another word for anointing is to “satisfy.” So that means that
when we get up to sing or preach, there are needs in the audience and God puts
an anointing on us to satisfy those needs. It’s crazy because that means that it has
nothing to do with you and God. It’s like He says, “I literally need to use you to
satisfy, and it has nothing to do with Me and you.” So it’s the anointing that makes
STB: You said when you’re on stage, that it’s not about you and God. How do you
yield yourself to be used before thousands of people at a time and not lose
yourself in the worship?
TT: I’m not a thief, but the only thing that I steal is time. You have to literally take
time to be with God, it’s not going to be presented. It’s not an easy spot to find,
especially when you could just get busy out of nowhere. I think it’s important that
the stage is not the only time you worship and connect with God. Praying without
ceasing (I Thes. 5:17) seems impossible unless you understand that it means just
keep the line of communication open, keep the atmosphere clean, keep the
channel of God open to where, if God wants to speak now, I’ll hear Him.
STB: Tye, no matter how hot your beats are, the music and the voices are tight, the
listeners (Christian or otherwise) always know that you represent Christ. Obviously
you’re a Christian, and you have a relationship with God, but is that something you
consciously pull off, or is it more like, that’s all you know and it has to be included in
what you do?
TT: Yeah, it’s all on purpose, and it’s all I know too. It’s really on purpose for me to
establish the Kingdom of God, establish God in the hearts of everyone, wherever
we are. The world, BET, wherever we go, I’m literally on purpose, going to make
sure that the people - though they love the beat and they love the music - know
what we stand for. I love to challenge people. We talk to Will Smith, we talk to a lot
of people. Every time I talk to somebody, the conversation turns to a challenge.
And I call it a challenge because, it’s not like I say, “You need to get right with God,”
because they already know that.
STB: How do you challenge them? What do you say?
TT: It depends on the conversation a lot of times. Because they know where I stand,
they always open up somehow like, “When my grandmother was sick...I went to
church that day.” That’s my doorway to challenge them. And I’ll ask them if they feel
it’s necessary to pray when their grandmother is not sick. I don’t care how rich they
are, how influential they are, I feel like it’s my responsibility to represent the
Kingdom of God. I have no other reason to be in that environment, as far as
secular arenas. They don’t need to hear another bangin’ beat. I have no other
reason, than to infiltrate their standards with the Kingdom of God.
STB: Tye, explain what the Kingdom of God means to you.
TT: What that means to me is His ownership. Kingdom means that there is a king.
So what I mean by “We represent the Kingdom of God,” is His way of doing things.
Like the three teenagers in the Bible [Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego], tens of
thousands of others bowed to this image, a false god. But three teenagers took a
stand; they were cast into the furnace, but when they came out, the king decided
that if their God could deliver these young men from fire, then everyone needed to
serve their God (Dan. 3). So I’m down to be like one of the three that stood and
turned a whole nation to God.
STB: What are you studying in the Bible these days?
TT: Genesis 22...
Shante Tribbett: Ephesians 6:10-18, spiritual armor, spiritual warfare. I like war
movies, army movies...I think of everything as a fight. This is about being protected,
we have to remain covered from head to toe. There can’t be a doorway for the
enemy unless you let him in.
STB: You spend a lot of time on the road on tour, what’s that like?
ST: Work, not a lot of rest, fun at times...
TT: I’m thinking of the bus, because we’re all family on the road...
ST: I say work because of our schedule, once we get on the bus, it’s leisure...
TT: It’s probably more fun for the choir because as soon as they check in, there’s
work for me to do. But I have my wife on the road with me, my mom is the manager,
my brother is the musical director, my sister is in the choir. We’re like the Jackson
35. Bus trips are the most fun with G.A., we share the Word, worship, watch movies,
etc. I want to stress the importance of having fun because in everything - I might
get in trouble for saying this - there should be a level of entertainment.
STB: Are you talking about personally, or when you minister on stage?
TT: I mean both.
STB: Explain please.
TT: I should not have to only be able to take my aunt to The Color Purple musical
for her to be entertained and have fun. The movies, bowling, etc. shouldn’t be our
only source of entertainment. These are all the world’s resources. When the
children of Israel got their promised land, they built the tabernacle and everything
was within the walls...When I want to go see the Sixers’ [Philadelphia 76ers] game,
why do I have to be around alcohol? We can start a league in the church. When I
want to see singing and dancing, why do I have to go see The Color Purple? Can
you sing, dance, entertain me and worship God? There shouldn’t be a difference. I
think it’s entertainment, we just don’t say it. [In the Bible] there were dancers who
entertained the king. [The Bible says] come before my presence with singing. [It’s
like God is saying] “Yes, please me.” How we have viewed entertainment hinders us
from the liberty in which God wants us to function. The key is, where the spirit of the
Lord is, there is liberty (II Cor. 3:17).
I think of it like this: Sex is the only thing that is a sin until marriage. God hates it,
until you get married and enter into covenant. Every other sin is a sin all the time,
except for sex outside of marriage. So, my point is, there is a thing that is
abominable to God that He later accepts, when you bring it under the umbrella of
His covenant. Could it be that entertainment has not been brought under the
umbrella of God’s spirit (where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty)?...I feel like
there needs to be some type of pleasure. [Tye grabs his Bible for a mini-sermon.]...
Psalm 63:1-2 says, “My soul thirsteth after thee and my flesh longeth after thee.”
You get to a point where your flesh longs after God. I don’t want to say it pleases
STB: ...Well you can because God is the only one who can both create and fully
satiate an appetite for Himself, or anything he wants you to have, or that is not
sinful to enjoy. Satan presents ideas and sinful, inexpedient opportunities all day,
everyday, but submitting to his temptations will never fully satisfy any part of us. In
God’s Kingdom, He desires that we become whole and fulfilled in all areas -
spiritually, financially, physically, etc. So He does place spiritual and natural desires
in us for things He doesn’t mind us having or taking part in. You’ve just got to know
the difference and not be abusive with what you are blessed to enjoy.
TT: ...Right, because if you were not supposed to please your flesh, then you don’t
[ever need to] eat natural food. So, in the same spirit of me eating the food I like, I
dance the way I dance in the spirit of the Lord. Now the immature mind would say,
“Yeah, I can entertain, I could have sex before marriage, I knew I could do that...”
No, the whole key is being under the right covenant. Under the covenant of God,
the same feelings are now accepted. Because the feelings don’t change after
you’re married; that same nasty, dirty lust, now becomes a healthy appetite.
I think entertainment needs to be inclusive to make a Kingdom. We need to have
our own playgrounds, not secluded, but make the world come somewhere and they
have to hear God on one of the merry-go-round songs. Why when we go to the
mall, we have to hear Usher? I’m not saying we have to have an “all-saved mall…
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