Mrs. Ellen Harris is an anointed songstress dedicated to her ministry of sharing the gospel through sound. Let’s find out a little bit about her then dive into the first question and answer session:
I am a native of Norfolk, VA, and the 5th Child of 10 born to Edward & Bernice Willey. I committed my life to Christ as a teenager…1976. My highest Education: Norfolk State University, Class 1982
Office Admin/Business Admin. I’ve been living in the metro area since 1983. Some of my hobbies: Poetry, Nature walks, amusement parks, and floral arrangements. I consider myself an encourager and helper and just sharing the word in song.
Now let’s get down to business:
Li’el: How did you get inspired to write your first album?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: At first one of my former pastors challenged me. The first song I heard in my spirit was Psalm 93. When I opened my Bible a chorus line came to me. I sang it first a capella at Emmanuel Baptist Church during the testimony portion of the [worship] service around 2003/2004. I taped it and let the pianist listen, and he did nothing. Other songs came later. I was singing to myself [but eventually there came a time to share it with others].
Li’el: Which of your songs are written to your older audience? Your younger one?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: My songs are universal, everybody can relate to my music. I grew up in a Pentecostal church, and growing up I could never understand what they were saying in the chorus. They weren’t saying anything. I have more of a contemporary style.
Li’el: How would describe your style?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: Contemporary style, with some old-school gospel style (more of a congregational style where the congregation can sing along and the people can catch on really quick), and hymns.
Li’el: What are some current projects you are working on?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: A lot of drafts of songs, contemporary style in the beginning that shift towards the end to old-style gospel. The song A New Day ends on an old-school [note]. [Writing this song] is a process. [I’ve] been working on it for five years.
Li’el: What is the writing process like for you?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: I write, record it on a phone, then when I’m ready I test it on my daughters.
Li’el: What is your motto when it comes to music?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: It is a gift [and] you have to be in prayer. It is an outreach; a ministry. I’m a very low-key person. It’s what God is going to do. It’s him using me to draw people in. In the street some may never go to church. [But they may hear the music.]
Li’el: What advice do you have for people aspiring to sing?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: If your voice is pleasing to the ear and people encourage you in that area…and you like it and enjoy it, try to sing a solo. He (God) might plant something in your spirit and you might be talking to someone. [You might be] going through something in your life…later on you might hear it in a song. He may be working in your Spirit. Songs are just poetry in motion. When I was in high school, I was in poetry class…I was in a choir…he has always been using me…he brings [things together]. Be in tune with what God has for you in your season.
Li’el: How do you find balance in your life between work, your ministry, home, and fun/time for yourself?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: I have one child at home so this is a good season for me. I have to capitalize on this time, i have to watch my time. I have to really discipline myself. It’s being aware of your time. The thing is to stick to a schedule. Prayer life is very important.
Li’el: Who was your favorite vocalist growing up? Who is it now?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: Growing up it was Donnie Hathaway. Now my favorite vocalists are Andrae Crouch, the Hawkins family, and Yolanda Adams.
Li’el: How would you describe family?
Mrs. Ellen Harris: The people you grow up with [who] carry you through all stages of life. Some are more critical than others. They were very supportive. My husband reminded me that you can’t please everybody. The family, you listen to them first but you still stay prayed up to make sure you are doing the Lord’s will regardless of what [they may think].
This gifted vocalist is elegant, classy, and very down-to-earth. Another phenomenal woman!