Cover: Tiara Thomas Talks Church Upbringing, Being Different, Feeling Pressured By ‘Bad’, More

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, R&B newcomer Tiara Thomas was raised in the church. Encouraged by her parents, she began her foray into music by showcasing her talent at church, school, and at venues within her community. Although she appreciated her upbringing in Indiana, the singer-songwriter, who taught herself how to play the guitar, pulled an enormous amount of inspiration from the outside world early in her development to create her own unique sound.

While in college, Tiara received a lift in her career in 2009 after meeting Le’Greg O. Harrison, part founder of The Board Administration (BOA) with rapper Wale. She signed to the imprint in 2011 and shared the stage with artists like Diggy Simmons, J. Cole, and Fabolous.

After graduating from Ball State University in 2012, Tiara began to fully focus on her music career. In 2013, she received her big break after Wale placed her song “Bad” on his mixtape. The song became an instant success and the D.C. rapper used the record as the lead single on his third studio album, The Gifted, which peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100. The same year, Tiara signed with Rico Love’s Division 1 label, and released the EP, Dear Sallie Mae, which she says is “a collection of songs that I wrote when I was in college, when it was just me and my guitar.”

Now with the excitement of Rihanna singing her song, Tiara is readying her much-anticipated debut album, Bad Influence, led by the single “One Night.”

For our latest cover story, Tiara shared her plans for her upcoming project, what life was like growing up in Indiana, recording secular music after growing up in the church, her break with “Bad,” and much more. Check out this rising starlet.

You’ve put in a lot of work over the years, and now you have your debut album coming out soon; it’s called Bad Influence. Why the title?

The most obvious reason is from the influence of “Bad” the song, the first successful song that I had with Wale, but I wanted to name my album ‘Bad Influence’ because… there’s a title track on the album called “Bad Influence,” where I’m basically talking about a girl that’s messing with a guy that maybe she shouldn’t be messing with. Everybody has that kind of situation where somebody is f**king with somebody, and they shouldn’t be f**king with them, but they still do! I took it from the perspective like that person was a bad influence on me because I’ve had people that are bad influences on me, but it’s also a good influence in a way because you're able to get dope music from it. I’ve also been a bad influence on people… I shouldn’t smoke [weed], but I do. I like to turn up; I’m young and I like to have fun. Also, in this album, I talk a lot about dysfunctional relationships, sex (I talk a lot about sex, there are a lot of sexy music), drugs and being under the influence, so I thought this collection of music should be called the “Bad Influence.”

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Gary Gentles

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