We’ve come a long way since women first questioned balancing the affairs of mother, wife and the career woman. Since the emergence of women in full force as career women, they have given ‘balancing act’ a new meaning and breath of life. Tamia Hill exemplifies the rare breed and proudly sports the ‘S’ for Superwoman on her chest. With a new album release, “Love Life”, which hit stores in June, she is making the rounds on her promo tour to revisit fans, and nurture industry relationships. Many that have contributed to her music career when her first hit single, “You Put a Move On My Heart” was released in 1995.
Since her last album, “Beautiful Surprise”, Tamia secured a partnership deal with Def Jam Music under her independent label, Plus 1 Music Group to release “Love Life”. Although she’s had a successful run on an independent record label, she has always conducted business like a major label, understanding the importance of extending a broader outreach under the new business model.
“Well, you know certainly all of this encompasses the fact in the way that we sell music and the way that people consume music has changed since the beginning when I first started. Artists were given six-album deals. I’m just on my sixth album right now, so can you imagine? When you bought the album from your local record store, and you sat with it.” she said.
Artist’s lives have become of interest and must compete for that popularity space. The more excitement you bring to the table the more likely the fan base will follow what the artist is doing or up to. Social media has changed the landscape making it an entirely different game.
Tamia continues, “You read the credits inside to see who they knew as well as the ‘thank yous’. Now, you can have a top song and a number one hit and we may not know what you look like. The problem as an artist is in order to have longevity and have a career you need to get people interested into who you are—they want to hear what you have to say. They have to be interested in following you not only because you’re hot on the radio.”
Being nominated six times for a Grammy, the Canadian born singer knows all too well the evolving changes in the music business.
She explains. “As we know, music changes, tastes change, stations change. That is not something that an artist can rely on as a career. The way that we consume music and the way artists are introduced to the public has changed a lot.”
With a multitude of hit singles from Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “You’ve Put A Move On My Heart”; Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group with Vocal for “Slow Jams”, which she performed with Babyface and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for her work with Brandy, Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan on the single “Missing You” from the Set It Off soundtrack as well as being nominated for her fourth Grammy in 1999 for the soulful duet with Eric Benet, “Spend My Life With You” which earned her a 2000 NAACP Image Award.
Working on “Love Life” was a different process that she felt brought out different emotional levels of expression for her. On this project she worked with several producers, Shep Crawford, Quad Kelly and Polo – each bringing something fresh and unique to compliment her vocal style.
“I let the music guide me and a lot of times, it’s just conversation. The musician is playing some kind of chord that makes me feel a type of way that brings out a certain type of lyric. It just depends. With Shep for example, I called him at the tenth hour when I was finishing “Love Life” and I was pressing it the next day.” she said. “I woke up and I said, “I have to re-make this song called, “Black Butterfly” because of all the things that’s going on in the world. It’s just a song that I love. I think it’s a beautiful song and Denise Williams did a great job.”
The first single “Sandwich and A Soda” is currently receiving radio airplay but radio stations have been choosing their own favorites, which includes her rendition of “Black Butterly”.
Growing up in Windsor, Canada, across the bridge from Detroit, she often listened some of the best voices in Soul music.
“Certainly, having Detroit so close and the Motown era and the singers that we know that are from Detroit. Whether it’s The Winans, Anita Baker, Aretha Franklin–all of Motown. DeBarge, Michael Jackson to Diana Ross–it was great growing up so close to the border. I feel that I got the best of both worlds. I was influenced by Canadian music as well, Bryan Adams, and all of those things,” she adds.
Outside of her incredible career as a singer, songwriter and entertainer—her first job is mom and wife. Married to retired NBA basketball star, Grant Hill—the couple have two daughters and continue to be involved in several charities through The Tamia and Grant Hill Foundation. Although, it’s a challenge to juggle several hats, she takes it all in stride.
“I think it’s important to take a breath and take a beat everyday. I don’t know if we ever find the balance. I’m not sure. We just continue to try to find balance in what we’re doing. It’s a balancing act and I think that’s what a lot of working moms are doing. We’re all trying to create this ‘balancing act’ and sometimes it can get out of whack and it’s crazy. You pick the balls up and start juggling again. I don’t know if you ever can achieve balance.”
Tamia will go on her first tour since she hit the road in 2012 with R.Kelly in mid-August. Once the U.S. tour is completed, she’s excited to continue the second leg performing overseas for European fans. Being in the music business for 20 years, we asked her what advice would she tell her younger self, understanding what she knows today.
“It’s all about learning as much as you can about the music business. So much is going on and forever changing. A little bit is about talent or if you can sing. There are a lot of great singers and performers out there and haven’t had the longevity out here.”
She adds, “It’s also about learning as much as you can in any other business. You wouldn’t start a clothing line or open a store without knowing as much as you can about the business? It’s not always about the talent– it’s so important to know as much as you can which will help you in the long run.”
Check out Tamia’s new music video: “Sandwich and a Soda”
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