Since we first heard her voice on the sultry “Slow Jams,” a duet with the revered Babyface, on Quincy Jones’ 1996 release Q’s ‘Jook Joint,’ it was clear that the then nineteen year old Ontario, Canada native Tamia was a force to be reckoned with. Fast-forward ten years, three albums, and multiple Grammy nominations, Tamia is still making soulful music with her beautiful melodies. Her passionate delivery resonates with fans young and old. Tamia’s style is timeless, and continues to evolve. Needless to say, she is not going anywhere anytime soon. Tamia’s latest release, Between Friends, hits stores November 14th.
Singersroom: This will be your fourth album; do you still get the same antsy, anticipation before each album comes out?
Tamia: Of course, of course. I probably even have it more so now that this album is out on my own imprint. It was my vision from beginning to end. I am probably a little more nervous, but I’m actually way more excited because I was more involved in the process. The way in which music is going, the internet, all those things are exciting to me. It’s just great that independent companies have an opportunity to do something like this. No longer does independent mean lack of quality. So, I’m just really excited.
Singersroom: Between Friends has done really well abroad, is it safe to say it will do just as well here in the states?
Tamia: I hope so. The only thing you can really do as an artist is give one hundred and ten percent in making the album. Then you just cross your fingers and hope that everyone enjoys what you put out there. I’m glad that I got a chance to see what it did overseas, and I’m very hopeful that my fans in the United States will appreciate it as well.
Singersroom: What can we expect from the video for the first single, “Can’t get Enough of You?”
Tamia: Oh my goodness, I just finished the video with [director] Darren Grant. It may be one of my favorite videos. I’m just really excited about the video. I think it’s beautiful. Darren did an awesome job, we shot it in Miami. It’s a different look for me, I dyed my hair dark. The make-up is very minimal. It’s beautiful in a natural sort of way. Natural to me, as in three hours of make-up!
Singersroom: Ha, as long as it comes across effortless right.
Tamia: (laughter) Yea, you know I am growing up and its time for me to reflect that as well in the music and the image. It was very nice and natural for me.
Singersroom: Speaking of your image, how have you been able to maintain it? You see a lot of artists coming out, who are extremely talented, but the image that they portray is sometimes over sexualized. How have you been able to maintain your classic sensuality?
Tamia: I think that I can say that I have been sexier than some people would like, but I think it has to be your own thing. Some might say those hot pants that I wore walking down the street in [the video] “Officially Missing” you was a bit much, but I was darn happy that I just had a baby and I could fit in them. But [again], it has to be your own personal thing. It’s almost like being overly sexual is the easy thing to do. But people aren’t even as impressed by it anymore. So you almost have to figure out ways to stand yourself apart from everyone else, and sometimes that way is to cover up. It is a personal preference. I don’t have a problem with anyone showing flesh or being that type of artist, as long as that’s what they feel. I have a problem with other people telling them to be that, and then at the end of the day they can’t look themselves in the mirror.
Singersroom: Who did you work with on this album?
Tamia: I only worked with two producers on this album, Shep Crawford and Rodney Jerkins. Shep and I went in the studio, and we just wanted to go right in. We started writing. Rodney called me because he heard I was in the studio, he was like come up to Atlantic City I want to get down with you. It really happened so organically; it all just fell in place. I didn’t want to do an album that had so many producers. I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many great producers, that this time I just wanted it to be simpler. I wanted the sound to be kind of my own.
Singersroom: How do you find the balance between leading a high profiled married life and your private life?
Tamia: That is the job! That is my job. I don’t even know if you ever find it, but that is what my job has been. For a long time it’s been trying to maintain a balance. It’s harder and harder now with the internet and things like that, to separate the two. Also, as an artist you want to be available to people. You don’t want to be so distant and closed off. You do have to find that balance in which you can let go and let people in, but also keep a little for yourself. I don’t know if you ever find it, but the point is to try to keep it as balanced as possible.
Singersroom: You are attached to many causes, from Habitat for Humanity to the Tamia and Grant Hill Foundation. Where did your desire to give back stem from?
Tamia: I had a lot of people growing up that have helped me out and saw potential in me. Also, my husband is great too. Together we just think it’s important; a lot of the causes we support are kids causes. Obviously our daughter Myla strengthens that. You looking at a child, and their hurting, that’s painful. No parent wants to see that happen to anybody’s kids. We’re very passionate about that. I think that it’s important; if you have an opportunity to lend your voice or lend a hand to an organization that you know can make a difference?you do it.
Singersroom: Now you are known for great collaborations, is there anyone out there that you’d like to work with or any projects already in the works?
Tamia: On this album, I joined up again with Eric Benet. We did “Spend My Life with You”. On the album Between Friends we did a song called “Have to Go Through It” that was written by Shep Crawford. Man, I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many great people. Wow, I don’t know, that’s tough. I would be open.
Singersroom: It seems that every one of your albums contains a remade classic, I’m sure some of these artists were some of your inspirations, growing up who were some of your favorites?
Tamia: Growing up in Windsor [Ontario, Canada], Detroit was right across the border so I got a lot of influence from Motown and actually on this album I did a remake of Daydreaming by Aretha [Franklin]. I love female singers growing up, CeCe Winans, Gladys Knight. With Gladys Knight, when we went in and did “Missing You”, I swear we went in the studio and after her first take?we could have left. It was my first time recording with other people, I did my part and after that I was like you know what I’m gonna stay for a little bit. I was fan awe of her. I watched her, and I was like, man! Over and over again she was just amazing. I have seen her perform, and it’s so effortless. I admire people like that, I admire real true blues singers who can get out there and they know how to put on a show. James Ingram, I’ve performed with him and watched him put on a show. Everything isn’t perfect, but you don’t even care about that. When I say perfect, I mean in terms of lighting and staging and all those things. They don’t need all those theatrics. They’re just amazing.
Singersroom: If the Tamia of Q’s Jook Joint could have a conversation with the Tamia of Between Friends, what kind of advice would she have for her?
Tamia: Wow, I would say keep your head up, its gonna be a long bumpy road. But you’ll stay with it because you love it.
Singersroom: So where do you see yourself another ten years from now, you have over a decade already under your belt and have been highly successful?
Tamia: I’ve been so fortunate to still be doing what I am doing. I have seen a lot of artist come and go. So, I just feel very blessed its not because I am all that great you know! I just feel very blessed that I am still here and still able to do that music. I am actually growing in the business, now being a business woman and owning my masters and things like that. I think that’s important for artists to really get involved on the business side of it and no longer just be the singer.
Singersroom: So what made you decide to go the independent route?
Tamia: Again, I’ve been so fortunate to work with such great people. From the beginning Quincy Jones always talked about ownership. You know Quincy was owning everything; he does own everything. He always told me that. I think that you have to have the right team around you obviously. You have to have a strong backbone number one but you also have to have a really strong belief in what you’re doing. When you do have that, you will go out on a limb and think outside the box. I think maybe a lot of it is just maturity, and also having a vision and seeing that it’s possible. I think over the years it’s become more and more possible to do it with the way the business is going?you know via the internet, I-tunes, Myspace, your own webpage and things like that.
Singersroom: What’s next for you, I know you’ve done a stint in acting, do you think you’re going to go in that direction?
Tamia: You know I take it day by day. Right now, the album comes out November 14th so I am really excited about that. I’ll probably be going back to South Africa and hopefully go on a tour in the United States the beginning of next year. I never really done a tour, I did the Ladies First tour but that was very short. I’ve never really done a tour where I could take a band and actually sing and let people get a chance to get to know me and for me to get a chance to know them.
Listen Tamia’s new single “Can’t Get Enough”
Support Tamia’s Independence – Purchase the new album Between Friends on Amazon.com —— By: Interview by Waine Youn