Everything about Tamia is unique – her sound, her style and her beauty. Since she emerged on the scene over 10 years ago, a lot has changed for the R&B singer. She has evolved into a wife, a mother and her own boss. As a protégé of Quincy Jones, Tamia says that Qunicy taught her many aspects of the industry namely to own publishing and everything else that had her name on it. She recently started her own record label, Plus One Music Group, and has independently released her fourth album, Between Friends.
Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis – a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that affects the central nervous system – in 2003, Tamia experienced the initial effects of the disease. It made her normal day to day routine very challenging, but not for long. After becoming educated about Multiple Sclerosis and getting treated, she regained all of her strength. Though her battle isnt completely over, Tamia is back and on the go again. She recently took some time out to talk with us about what its like being the wife of NBA star Grant Hill, and how she juggling dealing with MS, her family and her new record label.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: We havent heard much from you in a while. What have you been up to?
Tamia: Life! Actually Ive been working on my album for a year or so, and I did couple shows over in South Africa. Between taking care of my husband and my daughter, Ive been away – but I havent been relaxing.
AHHA: A lot of celebrity couples find themselves the targets of the media and gossip. How have you and your husband been able to maintain such a low profile?
Tamia: I guess were just not that interesting! [laughs] We do normal things. I have no idea, but its good. I like the low profile. I have no complaints, especially when you have kids. Were able to go anywhere we want at any given time with no problems.
AHHA: What was it like being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis not too long after your husband had recovered from ankle surgery, and then a staph infection? It seems like you had two big blows hit you at once.
Tamia: It was devastating at first, and I think that was because I didnt actually know what Multiple Sclerosis was. I took the time to inform myself on exactly what it was, and realized that it was actually treatable but not curable, and is something that can be managed. I just believe you just play the hand youre dealt and we have definitely been blessed through it all.
AHHA: Have you always been comfortable talking about dealing with Multiple Sclerosis?
Tamia: I havent been uncomfortable talking about it. I mean it is what it is. For me, the main reason why I wanted to talk about it from the beginning is the reason why Im doing so well now, I got diagnosed early. I think thats with anything, any diagnoses. So to me its just really important people get out there, and if you feel like somethings wrong, you know your body, the sooner you figure that out the better position you will be in.
AHHA: There are other celebrities who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and dealing with the same thing you are. Have you gotten any support from any of them?
Tamia: Ive spoken to Montel Williams about it, and also have been on his show a couple of times. I think its important to talk to people who are in your same position and can understand what you are going through. When I go on tour and do spot dates I meet people all the time that tell me they have MS, and we talk and I think that is important to share things together.
AHHA: You seem to be very marketable. You definitely have the looks and the talent, but do you believe that you have been overlooked over the years not received the recognition you deserve?
Tamia: Yeah I think everybody has ego. I do too, and sometimes I feel that, but I find whenever I feel that its just really time to really concentrate on me and stop comparing myself to everybody else and everybody elses expectations. You can look at my situation and say I havent been given what I deserve, but on the other hand I have seen a lot of artists come and go who are just as talented. Like I said, you play the hand your dealt, and you continue to grind and explore different avenues of the business.
AHHA: What do you do to keep yourself up, because you look fabulous?
Tamia: Thank you. Well you know having a husband as an athlete isnt bad. Theres a constant barometer that I need to work out because hes a workout-aholic.
AHHA: What do you think of the younger generation of female artists today? What do you think is different for them as opposed to when you began?
Tamia: I definitely think theyre doing their thing, but its way more competitive now than when I started. Especially where contracts are concerned. When I started, you pretty much signed a six album deal because they realized that it was probably going to take the first two albums for people to get to know you, but now if people dont get to know you after your first single you could be over. And I think thats sad, because you see a lot of people who are very, very talented, and for what ever reason things didnt work out – they’re gone and sometimes you dont get a second chance.
AHHA: You were formerly signed to Atlantic Records. What prompted the split?
Tamia: My deal was up and it was a matter of, Do I want to resign or move on? I was at a point in my life where I was like, You know what, Ive been signed to a major label since I was 19 years old. One thing Quincy Jones told me was, Number one, own all your own publishing, which I did from the beginning – and then two, Own everything else your name is on. I decided that I needed to go out on a limb and that I could put this album together. I teamed with a distribution called Image, and I wanted to do something different and help other artists realize they could do it as well.
AHHA: Are you the only artist on [your label]?
Tamia: Yes maam, and Im loving it. I feel like I dont want to be just a singer, I want to have more input in my projects and every aspect of it, not just the song selection, and this enables me to do that. Its a whole heck of a lot more work of course, but its awesome at the end of the day. It feels so much better to see something that you had your hands in from the beginning do well.
AHHA: How supportive is your husband of your music career?
Tamia: I wouldnt be able to do it without him. When you take on something like that you definitely need a support system. Theres a lot of hard work and a lot of hours. So hes definitely been awesome.
AHHA: Tell us about your new album.
Tamia: The album is titled Between Friends. I had a chance to work with Shep Crawford again, who did Stranger in My House, and Rodney Jerkins, who I have been dying to work with for a long time. We all got on the project together, and Im just really excited about it. Like I said about the aspect of doing it on an independent route, is exciting to me. I went into the studio and was free to do the type of music that spoke to me at the time. and Im really proud of the album at the end of the day.
AHHA: What prompted you to give it that title?
Tamia: Basically I called it Between Friends because I called all my friends when I worked on this project. Ive been in the business over ten years, and Ive been lucky enough to cultivate a lot of friendships. Between Shep and Rodney and completing a duet with Eric Benet, working on my album really didnt feel like work, it felt like I was just hanging out amongst friends.
AHHA: We hear you have a song with Jim Jones. How did the collaboration come about?
Tamia: Jim is on the remix to a song I have called Too Grown that Rodney Jerkins did, and it was primarily just released to clubs. We spoke to Jim about seven or eight months ago when he was really just kind of bubbling. Ive always loved his voice. When we sent the song over they were like, Cool, so it was perfect.
AHHA: Do you plan to work with any other Hip-Hop artist in the future?
Tamia: It just depends on what happens. I have worked with Fabolous and Snoop Dogg in the past. My roots are definitely in R&B, but collaborating is a part of music and its always important to try different things.
AHHA: You got your start in the industry with Quincy Jones, and earlier you mentioned that he taught you to that ownership is important. What are some other pointers that he taught you about the industry?
Tamia: Like I said earlier, one of the biggest things is ownership, which is huge because thats often easier said than done. Quincy just showed me by example. Hes one of the most humble men you will ever meet. Hes really on top of the world, but he is so humble and treats people with so much respect that anywhere he goes people love him. That taught me a lot. I definitely appreciate all the things that he did for me.
AHHA: Weve checked out your Myspace page [myspace.com/therealtamia] and it looks nice. Are you monitoring it yourself?
Tamia: Yes and its such a chore! [laughs] I keep thinking, Do I really need 50 friends a day, Im not sure? But its fun and interesting, and I can see how people get addicted to the madness. I think its great that you to get an opportunity to talk to people who share their opinions and ideas. I thought that I was the last person on earth that didnt have a page. But then I kept seeing people who had myspace but it really wasnt my space under my name. So my real friends would be like, You denied me!, and Id be like, What do you mean? Theyd tell me they tried to be my friend on myspace but I denied them, so I figured Id better hurry up and go get this myspace thing going so my own friends know I care about them.
AHHA: Outside of your music career what else is in the future for you?
Tamia: Well, right now my career is taking up all my time. Im just focusing on that and wifey duties and being mommy to my four-year-old daughter Myla. And now because Im not just the artist I have to make sure my record company is running fine. Im also looking forward to the beginning of the year where I can do a tour, which is something that Ive never done thus far on my own.