Tamia's long awaited follow-up to her acclaimed Elektra debut, A Nu Day, finds the sultry, sophisticated singer at both a creative and personal apex.
The 14-song disc, More, sizzles with Tamia's trademark sensuality, but it is also buoyed by a sparkling personality that her fans don't always get to see. Like her past efforts, the disc is anchored by stunning vocal displays that rival this generation's greatest voices. From the silky bounce of the album's opening cut, Mr. Cool, to the percolating vibe of It's A Party, and the contagious No Way, to the plaintive, winsome Smile, Tamia pushes all buttons on this one.
In short Tamia has arrived musically and spiritually! And what a journey it has been. From her earliest days growing up in the Ontario, Canada projects, she has always faced any adversity by soaring atop an unbelievable voice. Born to a seventeen-year-old single mother, she refused to be daunted by the odds against her. Now, with her best album yet, she straddles both the pop and R&B worlds, refining her talent like all the great ones do. I'm feeling real good about where I am. I think I've just gotten a hold of my life more, she says. I've become a mother in the past year, among other things. I'm more confident in the decisions I make in my personal life and regarding my music career. This is my third album overall. I've grown. There's boldness when you are maturing. You say what you mean and you mean what you say.
Transfer that edict to the songs on More and you begin to get a glimpse into Tamia's growth as an emerging female influence on the world of music. Both Whispers and Why Ask Why were co-penned by Tamia with producers Peter Lord and Jeff Smith and Mario Winans. The songs hint of a gravitas that wasn't always prevalent on her previous work. I feel like I did 'me' on this album, she says. Even if I didn't write the song, I chose material that spoke to me personally. To be able to not only voice my opinion but also to be sure of my opinion, was a big step for me creatively. I worked closely with Sylvia Rhone (Chairman of Elektra and executive producer on More) and she gave me a lot of creative room.
Tamia's previous success with ballads the smash hit from her last album, Stranger In My House has become an anthem of sorts created a new challenge to balance the tempo on More. She says her love for a good slow song harks back to her earliest memories of the hold music can have on you. I think because R&B got so club oriented there was a stigma about ballads for a while. But I always loved a good ballad. They can be so passionate and a good vocalist gets to really show their chops on a good one. I grew up doing talent shows and listening to the great singers, so ballads have always been a huge part of what I'm about. I feel like I had to display what I feel for them on this album.
Songs like Officially Missing You, which sheds both heat and light on what it's like to long for another, is complemented by the thoughtful and wistful Smile, which Tamia points to as one of her personal favorites on More. 'Smile' is about those times you feel you have to put on a pretty face in front of everyone. When everyone thinks they know who you are. They don't realize the ups and downs and that sometimes you do have to paste that smile on your face to get through. A lot of people think this business is all about the makeup and beautiful clothes but they don't always understand what you went through to get to this point.
Tamia's journey to achieve her tremendous success is well documented. Born in Windsor, Ontario, she began singing with her local church at only six years old. Soon she was entering talent contests and volunteering for local theatre productions looking for that big break. But for the first time she's willing to talk about some of the pain of growing up without a permanent father figure, realizing that others may benefit from her experience of being reared by a teenage mom. I was always happy growing up, but I realize now there were some things missing because of my situation. Now that I have a child, I know the importance of having a father in the household. The fact that my mom was younger also kind of hits home now. I realize the extra pressures that were on her. But I always felt loved. I try to put it in perspective, and I have a special place in my heart for those who might be living in the same situation now.
Tamia also hailed from a bi-racial family, but never recalls feeling 'different' in the projects where she grew up. There were always families around me that were bi-racial, so it wasn't that big of an issue. I do know I was taught early to persevere, which is maybe why I was so dedicated to a singing career at such a young age.
By the early '90's she was winning prestigious Canadian music awards, which led to an offer to appear on Quincy Jones' Q's Jook Joint album. Her first solo effort followed a few years later. Suddenly, Tamia was being billed as one of the most sought after new R&B vocalists to hit the music scene in a long, long, time. She garnered three Grammy nominations - 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. In 1999 she was nominated for a fourth Grammy for her duet with Eric Benet for the #1 Spend My Life With You.
But it was 2000's A Nu Day, Tamia's first effort for Elektra, which heralded the arrival of an exciting and beautiful star at the pinnacle of her creative powers. A Nu Day surpassed Gold status and established the singer as a force to reckon with both in front of the camera (her eye-popping videos consistently turned heads and broke hearts) and behind the mic.
Tamia says the album not only whetted her fans appetites, but gave her a taste of fulfilling the potential she always knew was there from the start. It was a great experience. My goal is always to do better than the last project, but with the new album I think everything is in the right place now.
Producers on more include Babyface, Mario Winans, and Shep Crawford (he produced the hit Stranger In My House), among others. I worked with all those guys before so there was a real comfortable feel getting back into the studio with them, says Tamia. One of her new goals for More is to also craft a compatible, sparkling live show. It is one area where I didn't concentrate on enough last time. I really want to go out and perform these songs. You know, have a real band. If I have to go in my own closet for the outfits, put on my own makeup, and drive the van myself, I'm going to do it. I think people are hungering for live songs, real melodies and instruments, the whole thing. The showmanship of it all, the live feel, the changing it up every night, that's what I really, really love.
--- from the official Tamia website