Krissy Marlene Ramsey (born male as James McNair Ramsey on 20 June 1961 in Orange, New Jersey) is a transgender Anglo-American singer-songwriter and recording artist who emerged as part of the Chattanooga, Tennessee music scene in the 1990s. She is known for her romantic, spiritually conscious folk-rock which blends British progressive rock and American pop influences and for her critically acclaimed album, On the Dying Breath of Wisdom.
Born into a military family to a career U.S. Air Force father and an English mother, Krissy Ramsey grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, East Sussex, England, and South Florida, before her father (who was also a jazz drummer) retired and settled the family in his hometown of Chattanooga in September, 1973. Falling in love with the American and British pop music of the 1960s and 1970s, Ramsey was classically trained, playing French horn, bass clarinet and trumpet in her junior high and high school bands, simultaneously making her first songwriting efforts while playing electric piano in a garage band in her early teens. After graduating from Hixson High School in 1979, she enlisted in the U.S. Army where she played a critical role in the re-activation of 2nd Chemical Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas.
After completing her military service in 1982, and being further exposed to her major British folk-rock influences (Al Stewart, Renaissance, Sandy Denny, and Strawbs), Ramsey taught herself to play the guitar and honed her songwriting skills while performing in local bars and coffee shops. Following her graduation from her Master's program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Ramsey began recording her debut album, On the Dying Breath of Wisdom, in 1997 while simultaneously developing her career as a mental health counselor. Produced and arranged by keyboardist/composer Joseph Akins, and engineered by Glass Hammer's Fred Schendel, the album features guest appearances by soprano, Unita, on backup vocals and former Legend guitarist Ed Holub. The music combines introspective lyrics, soulful melodies, and lush keyboards with a mix of folk, rock, pop, and classical elements reminiscent of the British art rock of the 1970s. Its ten songs comprise a musical portrait of Ramsey's spiritual evolution as reflected in her relationships and the historical events of the time, and "offers the timeless message that humankind has the power to realize its highest destiny by transcending age-old divisions and embracing the unity of all life."
While recording on the album was completed in 2000, Ramsey's ensuing life challenges prevented its release until 2012, a year which coincided with the revival of her music career. As she prepares to record her second album, Ramsey's notoriety has continued to grow through a well-received series of live solo shows, as well as positive reviews in music blogs such as the Chattanooga Pulse., JamSphere, and Indie Band Guru. Ramsey is also an interfaith minister and pastor of Crossvine Church, a community ministry she founded in 2013.
As male-to-female transgender person, Ramsey completed her long-postponed gender transition in May, 2017. Ramsey reports being aware since childhood that she was really a girl, and had made an initial attempt to transition in her mid-20s, but abandoned it in the face of overwhelming social pressure, always hoping to be able to pursue it in the future. And with the change in social climate in the 21st century, Ramsey says she was thrilled to see the needed opening for her to pursue the change and realize her lifelong dream to live as her true gender. She now performs as a female artist under her new legal name.[better source needed]
- "Folk Rock Singer-Songwriter Jim Ramsey Revives Career With Re-Release of Album". The Chattanoogan. November 15, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- Michael, Marc (November 18, 2015). "Contemporary Folk? Progressive Rock?". The Chattanooga Pulse. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- Tee, Robbie (November 23, 2015). "Jim Ramsey: "On the Dying Breath of Wisdom"-A Coherent Whole That Makes Philosophical and Artistic Sense". JamSphere. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- Looper, Grant (November 20, 2015). "Music as Spiritual Expression". Indie Band Guru. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- personal communication from Ms. Ramsey (May 26, 2017)