The year was 1995, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs had recently started his own record label Bad Boy Entertainment & in June he introduced the world to the First Lady of Bad Boy by releasing her debut single to urban radio entitled “You Used to Love Me.” The artist simply went by the name Faith! In August Bad Boy released her debut self-titled album, which included the hit singles “Come Over” and what would become her signature song “Soon As I Get Home.”
Fast Forward to the present and Faith Evans is still The First Lady…of R&B!
We at UrbanBridgez.com couldn’t have asked for a better artist to kick off our very special “Interview Series” Celebrating 90’s R&B Music! Faith speaks to Aries of UrbanBridgez.com about what is was like when she debuted in the 90’s, one of her favorite memories from being on the road back then to her reason for writing her best-selling memoir, “Keep The Faith” & breaks news on her next book as well. Faith speaks on what really went down with the Florence Ballard film project, her new reality docu-series in the works, how the family is doing and of course we had to get the 411 on the next album!
In one of her most revealing interviews….get reacquainted with The First Lady!
UrbanBridgez.com: What was it like being an artist in the 90’s compared to now, what obstacles have you faced being an artist from then to now?
Faith Evans: In comparison to the 90’s to now, but I’m so glad…and not to say I’m up to a bunch of BS or anything. I appreciate that it wasn’t the speedy real time media and social networks like it is now. I’m like thank God back then none of this stuff was around (all laugh). It was definitely different that it wasn’t such an outlet for unsigned artists, which is a good thing now that people are able to get their music and talents out there. As far as obstacles, there’s many, there are still obstacles to be honest with you. Due to the technology advances and huge outlets for new talent, it seems like there is a new sensation every other day, every other week. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I don’t look at it as a bad thing. I think it just makes you have to work that much harder to satisfy your audience and make sure you keep your audience! Again, I’m not complaining about it, but it’s clearly very different.
UrbanBridgez.com: How do you think we can get that 90’s vibe back in the music of R&B, oppose to now where it’s like labels are looking for just a hit and back then artists like yourself seemed to be making memorable music?
Faith Evans: I don’t know, we definitely can’t get back to the 90’s (laughs). I mean I know with me personally I try to just stick with my program and I think that’s what my fans appreciate about me. Not that I’m giving you the same song I made back in 95, but at the same time I don’t try and stray away from what I think feels good to me. It’s never like, oh I need to do this because this is what’s current or I hear this sound the most on the radio. Someone told me recently and I was very happy to hear it, someone who I really respect like a huge artist. They said you do such a good job at staying the same, but keeping it updated! I’m like oh really, okay (laughs). I don’t necessarily do it on purpose but it is 2011 and I’m still me so let me just do what I do (laughs)!
UrbanBridgez.com: Well you do it well and you do great with incorporating current R&B with what you’ve been doing from the start, so yeah you do it well!
Faith Evans: Thank You!
UrbanBridgez.com: What is like one of the best memories you have from the 90’s from being out on the road, I always hear these crazy tour stories from artists from back then?
Faith Evans: I would have to say, when I was on the road with my first album. Not the big Bad Boy Family tour, but I was out on the road doing my little weekend shows. And I was with my manager at the time Cheryl (Flowers), Chyna and one of my homegirls from Jersey. We were at this club in like North Carolina and the promoter was saying he didn’t have the money. My homegirl and Cheryl walked him around that whole club and made him go to every single cash register he had and get whatever cash that was in it and they were like you’re gonna give us something, we don’t work for free! So you’re gonna give us that money (laughs)! It wasn’t fun but looking back it’s like you know what, we been through it! I was out there like I’m not going on this ish for free, I’m going to make my money and we got our money!
UrbanBridgez.com: You recently performed at Divas Simply Singing, how did it feel to be in the company of other great female vocalist, all sharing one stage for an important cause?
Faith Evans: I did it for the first time two years ago, it was so much fun. To be honest I got so much of a kick out of it just being at the rehearsal, because I had never been apart of it and I didn’t realize it was about females singing with just a piano. Which is why it’s called simply singing, it’s not about being with a full band. But when I saw Loretta Devine there and last time I was there she was there singing Jazmine Sullivan’s (sings “I Bust The Windows”), okay! I heard that piano play and heard her sing “I Bust The Windows Out Your Car” I was like oh my god (laughs)! I got a kee kee out of that you don’t even understand! She was so dead serious and she sounded so cute, but it was just a different version of the song. I was like is that Jazmine Sullivan’s song? So just to see those women who are all very much forces to be reckoned with in their own right come together for that cause and to see that Sheryl (Lee Ralph) has been doing it for so long is just a good feeling to be apart of it. And I promised her that year that I would be apart of it, every year after. Last year when the show came up, my album had just came out so I was on a promo tour so I actually couldn’t be apart of the show. But I promised her anytime there after I would be there, I already told her I’m working on my song for next year.
UrbanBridgez.com: Speaking of Divas, can you tell us about Diary of A Diva, that has so many people excited!
Faith Evans: Diary of A Diva is a reality docu-series that myself and my friend Nicci Gilbert are co-executive producing. We’re actually shopping the show, so it’s not in production yet. I think someone kind of jumped the gun and made an announcement about it, but it’s not like we’re in production now. We’re still keeping our fingers crossed and trying to shop the show. To be honest I don’t think it would fair to whatever network decides to pick it up to discuss alot about it, because I’m sure they would want to make their own announcement about it. But it’s basically something that myself and Nicci are working on with a few more R&B divas! I got a chance to tell my story, I did my memoir and it was very well received. There are other “divas” who have have stories of their own, because people don’t really know their stories because of whatever reason. They might not be as commercial & on your radar as the next person, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to help them tell their stories by way of my platform.
UrbanBridgez.com: We were hearing alot about the Florence Ballard film & recently learned you’re no longer doing the film, has it been put on hold?
Faith Evans: I don’t know what is going on with the project itself, but as far as my involvement to be straight up and down. I kind of had to ask them to stop using my name in conjunction with the project. Because I never had a contract, they reached out to me well someone who was a “producer” (laughs), so they said. So I jumped on board right away. So of course I was like yeah I’ll do it and started promoting it and telling people all about it. Trying to connect the dots, I went to Detroit and met Florence’s family and alot of the people who were apart of the history of Motown. So over a period of several months after that, my attorney was like we still don’t have a contract from these people. I’m running around promoting it and their obviously saying my name along with it and they still haven’t laid the contract on the table. So that’s pretty much what happened. And don’t get me wrong it’s not about a dollar amount like I didn’t have any money, but there was no contract saying anything, even if you got $2. There’s no contract even saying you have that $2 at least (laughs). So the world I live in now and the business woman I am, that’s not cool! I do really hope and pray that the project takes off because I still keep in touch with Florence’s daughter and I think this is something they need. I was really wanting this to happen more so for them than anything, for the sake of her legacy. I know it’s a great story that people really need to hear the truth of and I was even willing to take it on board as a co-executive producer or something. But to be honest I didn’t want to step in anyone’s powerness, so hopefully the project does happen! If it doesn’t it’s definitely something I would revisit in the future and try to make it happen myself.
UrbanBridgez.com: What made you want to write your memoir, “Keep The Faith” at this point in your career?
Faith Evans: To be honest I didn’t think I was ready. This book agent had been pursuing me for like three years. I was like I don’t think now is the time, my career ain’t over or I’m not about to hang it up & hang up the microphone. But he was like that’s not the case, people really want to hear your story. To be quite honest the thing that really made me decide to go ahead and do it and entertain this offer was the fact that A. I was pregnant with my last child who’s going to be 4 and B. I knew I wasn’t going to be in the studio recording because I knew I wasn’t moving forward with my Capitol deal. So I was like I got some time on my hands what else could I be doing, let me think, let me think. Well okay maybe I should call this dude back that keeps telling me I should write this book (laughs). That was really what made it come together and to be honest God works in mysterious and wonderful ways because I’m so glad I did, it was well received. I’ve had offers to do Lifetime specials and movies about the book. Which I didn’t entertain those at the time, but I’m definitely going to look into some of that now. I won an African American Literary Award, so I’m really proud of it. And I didn’t even heavenly promote it, I didn’t go on a big book tour or anything like that. The reason being is the movie NOTORIOUS came about and the time it was ready to come out, that’s when they wanted to release the book. They were two totally unrelated things, I didn’t realize the movie was going to be coming out around the same time as the book. So I was really nervous and didn’t want people to think I was trying to piggyback off the movie. So I was like I don’t want it to come out right now, but the publishers wasn’t trying to change their date because they felt like one thing had nothing to do with the other. But thankfully people were able to receive the book and I’m still getting alot of great feedback about it.
UrbanBridgez.com: I for one am happy you wrote it, it’s a great read and cleared up alot.
Faith Evans: I still pick it up and read it when I’m on the plane and I just be gagging out loud (laughs). I be like I am stupid (laughs)!
UrbanBridgez.com: Outside of the up-coming Robin Thicke collaboration for his new album, do you have any other up-coming collaborations you can tell your fans about?
Faith Evans: Oh yeah, I was recently in the studio with Tyrese doing a remix for his new single “Stay.” It is HOT, HOT, HOT! I can not wait for people to hear it! It’s hot, it’s really hot! I don’t really say that much I’ll leave it for other people to say, but this is hot I’ll say it (laughs). It totally sounds like a Faith Evans record which is what his intention was, he was like I want it to sound like it’s your song and I’m just jumping on your record. I’m like okay, I’ll do it for you Black-Ty (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: You’re going to be having a cruise next year, that I will be attending!
Faith Evans: Hey!!!
UrbanBridgez.com: (laughs) Can you tell us about that for those who may not know yet and let them know how they can be apart of it?
Faith Evans: Yes! First of all I’ve never been on a cruise before. I never thought I wanted to go before because I don’t really play with water. I mean I swim but I don’t want to be in the middle of the ocean. But this lady came to me with this opportunity that I felt was just a wonderful opportunity for my fans and myself. It’s actually something that we’re going to do every year now and we’re actually working on the next one. It’s a concert on the sea, Family, Friends and Faith, you guys can check it out at faithevanscruise.com for those that haven’t heard about it – It’s 3 days and 2 nights, we’re leaving from Long Beach, California going to Sensata, Mexico. It’s two concerts and a bunch of activities that are designed for my fans. It’s going to be alot of fun, myself and Fonzworth Bentley and some comedians and DJ’s, it’s gong to be alot of fun. Again this was something I felt was like a really good opportunity for me to do something else with my fans. To be able to do something besides the regular Faith Evans hour and a half concert. One of the shows is like your regular like I’m going to a Faith Evans concert and the other show is going to be like a story-tellers type of thing where I perform the songs that I don’t normally do in my shows. Songs that I don’t get to put in my show like the ones people be screaming out like “Caramel Kisses” and etc. As well as tell the stories behind those songs. So the next one we’re working on, we’re going to have it leave from Miami, so my east-coast fans can make it if they can’t make it to this one. It’s going to be alot of fun!
UrbanBridgez.com: We can’t speak to you without asking you about your album you’re working on, what can the Faithfuls expect this time around and do you have a target time you plan to have the album done?
Faith Evans: I would say that I’m working on my new album in terms of strategy. I haven’t actively been in the studio recording new material, I’ve been getting some good music and some good songs that are not fully written from alot of people, alot of great producers and writers. But I am not actively in the studio everyday because really I’m just getting back into the swing of things with the kids being back in school, Chyna being away at college and not having that extra set of hands and extra set of wheels to pick the kids up. So it’s hard, I tell everybody I turn into a Pumpkin at 4:30 when my kids get home from school. Even with Tyrese, I went to his house three days in a row to do the song. I was like I have from 12-3 because I gotta be home (laughs). But that’s just my life right now you know, but I’m definitely getting it together. Like I said I’m strategizing, I’m listening to songs and writing some stuff. But I’ve been mostly in the studio paying back the swaps from my album (laughs). And you know doing stuff for other peoples projects, I’ve been doing alot of features lately. Which I must say has been a huge part of my career. I’m not mad at that, I’ll take it! The fact that other people respect me enough to want me on their project, that’s certainly been something that has kept me constant even when I didn’t have a record out. For example the El DeBarge record (Lay With You), hopefully it will be Grammy nominated! Someone I totally look up to, so for people I look up to to call me to be on their project I try to never say no. I’m usually in a position where I will make it happen, even if I have to come three days in a row for 3 hours (laughs). So I’m not actively recording for all my fans out there. Because I have seen some chat about that, but I am getting it together. I’m making some “moves” *wink* *wink*!
UrbanBridgez.com: You mentioned Chyna and recently she started college, how does it feel to have such a talented and beautiful daughter following in the footsteps of her mother?
Faith Evans: Oh my god I’m so proud of her! I hardly hear from her and that’s a good thing in this case, because she’s doing well. I’m hearing so much about her from other people, like yeah Chyna Doll up here doing her thing. She’s definitely got her own thing, her own swag, her own talent like she’s my child for sure, but this girl is amazing! She’s way beyond where I was at that age, she’s like a producer, a writer, a engineer, she can do it all. She just played me this Lady Gaga song that she remade for a project at school for Halloween. She did a remix of “Bad Romance” and made it a ballad. I’m like girl I want to tweet it so bad (laughs). And I’m not even the one that be putting stuff on Twitter like that, but it’ so incredible I’m like wow. She has her own dopeness and I’m just really proud of her. I miss her, but the fact that I know she’s doing so well it kind of over takes the sadness, you know what I mean. I kind of expected to be crying and everything but I know she’s doing her thing and she’s enjoying it which is a plus. She’s up there and making her mark and I know that she’s going to be successful. People are going to be like that’s Chyna Doll, that’s Faith’s daughter. Matter of fact, she’s just going to be just Chyna, Faith’s daughter is going to be so far in the background (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: How are the other kids doing and can we expect CJ in any more roles anytime soon?
Faith Evans: They’re all doing good! We all actually thought that Josh would be the first one to be an actor in our family. But because of NOTORIOUS CJ was kind of able to jump into it sooner. They’ve both been going on auditions here and there, it’s nothing that we heavenly pursue because I’m more about y’all have to get it together in school. So if they’re doing alright in school and an opportunity comes then we’ll let them do auditions and what have you. And if they’re lucky enough to get a call back and their grades are right then we’ll let them do it. Other than that, we’re trying to keep them focused and finishing school and getting into a good college and all those other talents are cool but I don’t really play that! Let’s get a degree…let’s get a diploma honey (laughs)!
UrbanBridgez.com: (laughs) Off the top of your head from your catalog, what are your favorite top 5 songs?
Faith Evans: Out of my catalog, ummm. One would be “Where We Stand (Faithfully),” that’s one of my favorites. Oh wow, umm “Tears Away” (Hav Plenty SDTK), “Soulful Christmas” (A Faithful Christmas), hmmm oh “Come Over” (Faith) and “Get Over You” on The First Lady I was just listening to that yesterday, that’s one of my favorites!
UrbanBridgez.com: Anything else you wanna share with your fans before we go?
Faith Evans: I’m getting ready to work on my next book, I’ve been starting to work on it for the last couple of years, but I finally think I’m going to move forward with doing a deal for it. A handbook of tidbits and jewels and experiences that I’ve learned as a writer, a producer and a artist and business woman. To sort of understand this whole new industry so to speak. There was a similar book back in the day that Kashif did called “Everything You’d Better Know about the Record Industry.” But he left off where we are right now. It was the future coming and the more technology side that it is now. So it’s going to pick up where he left off, is fair to say. Not that I’m re-doing his book, but if I had to compare it to anything that would be it.
As always I’m so grateful to everybody whether if I get to come in contact with them or not. It’s such a sincere thing when I say that I appreciate the people that support my music. You never know what it is about you that touches people, so you know I’m just grateful that God has put me in a position to touch people whether it’s by my music, whether it’s by the life that I have lived and continue to live. I’m definitely going to keep trying to do my thing, whether it be by way of recording or the TV things I’m doing. Just trying to be a good person, that’s really what it’s all about. And if I ever get the chance to come in contact with them, then I’m sure they will know, yeah that was real because I’m definitely sincere! I appreciate the love and your support Aries because you’ve always been in my corner. And as long as there are people out there who want to hear Faith Evans music, I’m going to keep on doing it & hopefully y’all will be satisfied!