Between Friends Interview With Tamia
(Feb. 9, 2007)
Canadaís Own Wonder. Not only is she a mother and wife, but
sheís got an amazing sense of self and substance. What a
pleasure to interview one of Canadaís shining artists! Tamiaís
a Grammy-nominated artist and married to NBAer
and her latest offering
is one extraordinary and iPod friendly CD filled with tracks of
real R&B that will move you and interludes that will
amuse you. Tamia chose her long-standing producer
on three tracks as well. This CD gets 5 out of 5 in my books!
For a little background, Tamia was bon and raised in Windsor,
one of the only artists to have received Grammy nominations
before even releasing an album, all at the tender age of 19.
She is best known for her 2001 solo hit Stranger In My House
and for Into You, her 2003 duet with rapper Fabolous.
After three successful albums, she left Atlantic Records
and released her new album Between Friends
independently. Tamia only aspired to be a vocal coach, but a
chance trip brought her to Los Angeles where she caught the
attention of super-producer
Quincy Jones at a 1994 awards show after party.
Tamia speaks to us about life, family, the music business and
her battle with MS.
Welcome back home! Do you get a chance to visit us here in
Yes I actually do. My family still lives in Windsor (LaSalle).
We go there all the time, at least every two months. In the
winter, they come and visit me since I live in Florida now.
Especially with my daughter, itís important that she go there.
She always tells everyone, ďIím half Canadian and half
American.Ē She knows the Canadian anthem, she doesnít know the
American anthem. She hears me singing it (the Canadian
anthem). I sang it for one of the All Star games that Grant
(Hill) was playing in. The Canadian anthem is a beautiful
Your CD is so great Ė it reminds me of old skool days. Iíve
found something in every track especially Too Grown and When a
Woman Ė there isnít one I donít like and unfortunately, I donít
get to say that often.
Oh thanks. Itís classic R&B. I wanted to do a classic R&B
album and not be about
the producers and have so much music over
the vocals. Just really about the melodies and the songs and
the emotion. And making an entire album that you can listen to
from top to bottom. And not to take you on these big
waves and dips Ė but very consistent. Now weíre finding in
picking second and third singles, itís difficult because I
didnít want to do an album that had fillers. I wanted to do an
album that all songs were all good enough to be singles.
Luckily for me, when we went to work in the studio with Shep
Crawford (who executive-produced the project). We have a
connection Ė heís a great writer and he writes for how
We write together very well. It just kept flowing.
Who was the male voice on the CD?
The guy voice on the album was Grant, the male voice singing was
Vocally itís really superior and I canít say that enough.
Whatís been the highlight around this project for you?
The highlight is going out there and singing live. Thatís been
highlight of the
project. The songs take on a different
personality when you sing them live. You love them in the
studio and itís great but when you get the live instruments and
you get the vibe in the room Ė you can just feel the energy in
the room, they take on a whole new energy. I loved ďMeĒ when we
recorded it but I love it even more when I sing it live. It
comes alive and you could drop a pin in the room. When you hear
the piano and the guitar going Ö Thatís the best part Ö loving
songs you record on an album and loving to do them live. And
also being able to do them justice live because we use live
instruments. People actually leave saying ďI liked it better
What are your thoughts about the music industry and whatís been
the biggest challenge?
The industry has become very disposable for artists. Iíve been
in it for a while now
(almost 11 years) and Iíve seen a lot of
artists come and go and itís not because they werenít talented.
Itís because if the record doesnít hit right away, then
they (labels) want to move on to the next person and itís become
very disposable. Itís important for artists to get a hold of
their career. For example, and I know you canít always do this
when youíre starting out, I put this album out independently. I
created my own record company, Plus One Music Group. I do
distribution through Universal in Canada. I think that the only
way you can make sure that youíre around is to make sure that
you control the product and obviously that you have a good stage
show Ė that sustains you.
Itís called the music business, and thereís a lot of
business that goes on. Getting on stage and singing is such a
small part Ė thatís why youíre so excited to get out there and
you canít wait. Thatís your release moment. Thereís a lot of
things that go on behind the scenes to make that stage
performance even happen. I think we have to be in control more
of our own destinies and not just give up our lives. Just
because someone says that youíre not good enough doesnít mean
that thatís the end. You have to keep moving and try to have as
much control over your product as possible.
Iíve seen people who have had hits actually and you never hear
of them again. Even on the business side of it, in the major
record companies, even those jobs are turning over very
quickly. I think my first contract was like a four album deal
because they realized that it was going to take at least the
first album to get to know you and to be drawn to you. Now if
they donít know you after the first single Ö itís very
difficult to sell an album now.
And people have way more access to music now. But I donít think
the quality is there. People that were in the top 10 five years
ago wouldnít have been in the top 30 if you look at album sales
alone. For people to go out and buy an album, which you can
pretty much download for free. If you donít believe as an
artist in what youíre selling, then youíre selling yourself
short and the fans as well. Theyíre not so forgiving and youíve
got to get it right.
Itís become homogenized. Itís the same olí thing. Once they
find a formula, letís get a girl with blonde hair and letís put
her with this producer, this producerís hot right now, and
thatís the formula so letís do it over and over again. Then
theyíre over that formula. Then whoeverís the next hot person,
letís get 10 other person to look like that hot person. The
only person that wins at that is the person that did it first.
Who are some of your influences Ėmusically or personally.
Whatís the formula that makes up your sound?
I grew up listening to a lot of gospel. The first concert I
ever went to was a
Winans/Clark Sisters concert and so I grew up
listening to them. I love a lot of female singers as well,
Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Aretha Franklin,
Whitney Houston of course. I love those classic female voices.
Who are some of your favourite Canadian artists? Favourite
Deborah Cox! Deborah has an amazing voice and sheís really
really nice. I like Nelly Furtado too.
If you could work with any artist, living or past, who would it
Oh goodness. Iíd love to do a song with Ella Fitzgerald. That
would be fun.
What do you want people to remember you for?
I want to be remembered for things that I do musically but also
I do outside
of music in maintaining my family, my career and finding that
balance. My husband and I do
charity work too. I think itís
about finding a balance. I could be the best singer in the
world but if my daughter doesnít know me and if she doesnít
think Iím the bomb, then what was it all for?
Iíve met a lot of singers who are really great and Iíve met
their kids and I was like woooow. You sacrificed all of that
for your own greatness. Thereís a sadness to me about that. Iíd
like you to meet my daughter and say ĎYouíve done a good jobí.
And then you would think even more of me as a singer! (laughs)
How have you found your balance?
I think itís what you want out of your life. Iíve been
fortunate to see the good and the bad and the ugly in having
money. Even before I was an entertainer, I got to realize that
itís not all about that. I know lots of people who are very
wealthy and very sad. But I lots of people who are very wealthy
and very happy as well. Thereís one common thing Ė theyíre
happy with their family and happy in their own skin. So you
have to have that happiness within yourself in order to be
happy. I think those are the important things. If I didnít
think that daughter and my husband were cool at home, I wouldnít
be able to sit here and be calm, talking with you. Iíd be like,
I gotta get home!
But theyíre fine. Sheís not brushing her teeth or combing her
hair, but sheís fine! (laughs)
How has having MS made you approach your career/life
When I was in the hospital and they were trying to figure out
what it was, I
wasnít thinking Ďoh my careerí, I was thinking Ďoh my familyí.
I have to get better for them. It really puts things into
perspective. At the end of the day, what are the things that
are most important to you? Thatís the people and the love that
you have from the people around you. And those same people are
the ones that rallied behind me. They saidí letís go, letís get
it going. Youíre not feeling sorry for yourself.í My husband
said ĎYou should put this album out on your own label, you
should own it.í So I thought I can do this! And you need those
people around you.
What it changed about me is that it put everything into
perspective. I feel very fortunate and blessed that I have a
job that I love to do. And I have such a great family and they
support me in what I do. My parents both worked in factory and
they both hated their jobs and I got to see that. So, I feel
very blessed. I mean, there are days when I feel like Ďahhh,
this business!í I have a job that I love and that I get to
affect and touch people. Music is such a powerful thing. It
speaks to the heart. No matter where you are, no matter what
country it is, it speaks to the heart. Itís a powerful gift.
I think God puts an anointing on certain voices and that
what speaks to the heart. You can feel it and when its
in a room and youíre singing and you can feel the whole
atmosphere like Ďwhoa!í Sometimes the atmosphere changes and
you can feel it so heavy. Itís an extremely powerful gift. I
just feel honoured to be able to share it with everyone.
Special thanks to Daphne Gray of Universal Music Canada for
hooking up the interview in the beautiful pink room of the Park
Hyatt. For more updates on Tamia, go to