Ralph Tresvant sang lead on New Edition's hits and had his own gold number one R&B hit with the silky "Sensitivity." He was the last member to release a solo project of his own. All of the group's previous members had number one R&B hits: Bobby Brown with "Girlfriend " and Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronald DeVoe as Bell Biv DeVoe (aka BBD) with "Poison." Besides this, Tresvant had New Edition's formidable chart success to contend with: four number one R&B singles, "Candy Girl" (gold), "Cool It Now," "Mr. Telephone Man," and "Can You Stand the Rain." Could Ralph Tresvant have hits after New Edition as a solo artist? But then again having Tresvant's record come out after his previous bandmates could be an advantage because he could gauge what his music should be like based on the response of the fans.
Born May 15, 1968, to Patricia Ann Tresvant and Ralph Tresvant, Sr., Ralph Tresvant grew in the Roxbury section of Boston. He joined Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronald DeVoe in a group formed by producer/songwriter Maurice Starr. Starr's concept was to form a group that was basically a "new edition" of the Jackson 5. Paradoxically, Motown founder Berry Gordy wanted to mold the Jackson 5 into a "new edition" of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Signed to StreetWise Records, the group scored with "Candy Girl." The hits continued with "Is This the End" (number eight R&B), "Lost in Love" (number six R&B), "Count Me Out" (number two R&B for two weeks), "Earth Angel" from the movie Karate Kid Part 2 (number three R&B), "Once in a Lifetime Groove" from the Gregory Hines/Billy Crystal movie Running Scared (number ten R&B), "Tears on My Pillow" with Little Anthony of Little Anthony and the Imperials, "If It Isn't Love" (number two R&B, number seven pop), "You're Not My Kind of Girl" (number three R&B), and "Crucial" (number four R&B).
Signing to MCA Records as a solo artist, Tresvant expressed his apprehension about becoming a solo artist and trying to match his previous successes in various interviews. Producers/songwriters Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis felt confident in Tresvant's abilities having work with him on the group's double-platinum LP Heartbreak. They had him sing the lead and background vocals on the song they had written for him, "Sensitivity." "Sensitivity" sold over a million copies, going to number one R&B and number four pop on Billboard's charts in fall 1990. His solo debut, Ralph Tresvant, was released November 27, 1990, and went platinum, parking at number one R&B for two weeks. The LP also yielded the charting hits "Stone Cold Gentleman," "Do What I Gotta Do," and "Rated X." For Jam & Lewis' Perspective Records, Tresvant sang on the 1992 hit "The Best Things in Life Are Free" issued as "Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson with BBD and Ralph Tresvant." That was followed by his own hit single, "Money Can't Buy You Love," from the Damon and Marlon Wayans movie Mo' Money. The singer appeared in the movie House Party 2. Tresvant was on the 1996 New Edition reunion album, Home Again and there was a 1998 MCA Special Products CD It's Goin' Down. ~ Ed Hogan