Interview: Tiffany Evans – Singer and Actress

Posted: April 9, 2008 in film/tv, interview, music
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Tiffany Evans

Date of Interview: 04/09/2008

© 2008 Clayton Perry

Every now and again, America is blessed with a talent so bright that its glimmer is inescapable.  In 2003, this rare phenomenon occurred, when Tiffany Evans was introduced to the world on Star Search, the predecessor to media juggernaut American Idol.  Although Evans was only ten at the time, her performance has stood the test of time against her fellow contemporaries (Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and the late Aaliyah).  She is the only singer in Star Search history to receive a perfect, five-star score on every appearance.

Since being crowned as Star Search’s Junior Division Grand Champion, Tiffany Evans has spent much of her time out of the limelight—honing her skills, earning a diploma and making select appearances on the silver screen.  In early 2008, however, at the age of 15, Evans re-emerged on the R&B scene, with the support of Ciara, her mentor, and “big brother” Bow Wow—showcasing a mature version of her earlier self on hit singles “Promise Ring” and “I’m Grown.”

On April 22, 2008, Tiffany Evans released her major label debut on Columbia Records.  Upon review of her eponymous album, Tiffany Evans managed to squeeze some time out of her busy schedule and settle down for an interview with Clayton Perry — reflecting on Whitney Houston, her Columbia Records experience, and growing up in the spotlight.

Clayton Perry: After your success on Star Search, you were signed to Columbia Records and set to release an EP in 2004. What happened to that?

Tiffany Evans: I was very young.  I was this little girl with a big voice, and my body did not match my voice yet.  They wanted to wait until I developed a bit to start singing about realistic stuff.  That was my deal with them, so I waited.  I was doing little shows and everything like that, but nothing too big. And then, in 2005 and early 2006, we started getting our stuff together and recording more songs. We had to wait.  And I’m so glad that we waited, because I had the opportunity to take the time off to finish school.  I felt like I was ready then, but right now, I feel like I really am.  It was hard on my family during that time.  But I’m definitely loved a lot and I received my diploma in ’06.  I know more than I used to know and I just feel better now.  You know, there’s a time when everything is supposed to happen and I believe that it’s all on time. So I’m happy with everything that’s going on right now.

Clayton Perry: Yeah, your current single, “I’m Grown,” definitely shows you in a more mature light.  How hard has it been for you, as a young black artist, to emphasize being known for your voice, as opposed to being known as just a pretty face?

Tiffany Evans: It is very hard.  I mean, there will always be people who underestimate you and say negative things, but you’ve just got to turn all of that into something positive.  If there’s lots of negativity out there, you have to take that negativity and turn it into a positive, and turn it into a message, which is what I do. I have a strong relationship with God and that makes it even better.

Clayton Perry: Living in the spotlight can be difficult, especially at a young age.  What burden do you feel about being a role model?  Or do you feel one at all?

Tiffany Evans: Well, being a role model is a huge responsibility, and there are certain things you do that you have to watch.  And you may think it’s fickle, but once you mess up, or you make a mistake, it’s easy to think that it’s the end of the world.  People look up to you and they expect you to be perfect.  They expect you to be perfect all the way around and you’re really not. And it’s hard, because some people just don’t believe that you’re human, you know?  But my parents and my family, they help me get through all of that.  I’m trying my best, and I just hope that I don’t make any mistakes in the spotlight.  If I don’t dig myself into a hole, then nobody will have the right to criticize me!

Clayton Perry: Up to this point, you’ve done a lot, in a little bit of time.  I mean, you’re singing, you’re acting, you’re dancing.  How do you balance it all?

Tiffany Evans: I have a strong foundation, which is my family.  Not a lot of people have that.  God has blessed me with a strong mother and father to keep me grounded.  They instilled great morals into my life that I take into this business.  They talked about the business with me, the dangers of the business, everything that’s out there, and now I’m able to watch out for those things.  I’m confident that whatever comes my way, I’ll be strong enough to handle it.

Clayton Perry: Well, anyone who knows your life story knows that you’ve gone through some tough experiences, but you seem to have made it through them all unscathed.  What advice would you have for a young person who might be in pursuit of a singing career, who might want to follow in your footsteps?

Tiffany Evans: You know what?  Just stay determined and stay focused.  You’ve got to keep those nerves.  Work hard for what you want, because anything that’s worth having, you’ve gotta work for it.  And easy—I believe that easy will get you in trouble.

Clayton Perry: That’s so true.

Tiffany Evans: Everything that I’ve done, I’m able to say that I’ve earned it—and I love the word “earn.”  You always want to work hard for what you want, so at the end of the day you can say, “I deserve it because I’ve earned it and I’ve paid my dues.”   But you’ve got to stay focused and, again, for all those young kids, you’ve got to stay in school.  Because school made me want to do music, you know?  Music made me want to come to school every day. And practice always makes perfect.  And please, if there’s anybody hating on you, take it and set it as a positive and just realize that you are doing something right, because if they persecuted Jesus, they’ll persecute you.  And that’s how you have to look at it.  Stay up and stay focused.  Be alert.

Clayton Perry: You were once quoted as saying that you have a real love of the music that came before you because it felt so real.  That being said, who are some of your current musical influences?

Tiffany Evans: My current—okay, well I just have to say I’ll always love Whitney—but I really like Alicia Keys.  I really love her.  Her voice is so addictive and so different.  Her style is amazing.  Mary J. Blige.  I also like rap artists, too.  I like Tupac—can we still say he’s current?

Clayton Perry: Well, yeah, he’ll never die! [laughing]

Tiffany Evans: Exactly, he’s always been a favorite.  I love Tupac, I feel like he has a lot of great songs that send great messages out and he was an amazing person all around, as well.  I view Chris Brown as more of a peer.  He sings, acts, and dances as well, and I want to dance and be able to pump just like him, which is kind of hard.  I admire him for being able to sing for real, for real, and dance at the same time.  So, I give him that.

Clayton Perry: I’m happy to hear you say, “I’ll always love Whitney,” because at the start of your career, when you first went into the Tiffany Lounge in Atlantic City, the song you sang onstage was “I Will Always Love You.”  What memories do you have from the past that keep on pushing you, even though you have had a bit of success?  What keeps on pushing you to be even better at what you do?

Tiffany Evans: My brothers and sisters, young people, and just those ties.  You know, back then, we were all going through a lot and we had to just triumph over tragedy.  And of course you never want to go back to anything bad, you know?  So you keep pushing hard and keep it moving.  So that definitely keeps me going, and my little sister, wanting to be like me.  I gotta make the way, I gotta make it right.  I just gotta make it, so she can follow me.  That’s one of the responsibilities of being a role model as well, watching what you do.

Clayton Perry: When your name pops up, what’s the first thing you want people to think?  What is it that you want them to know about you?

Tiffany Evans: I want them to think, “Amazing, unbelievable! That girl will leave a legacy on this earth.”  Honestly, that’s what I want. And I want them to say, “She was the best at what she did, and she did it right!”  I definitely have to work hard to get to that point.

Clayton Perry: Is there a particular song on your new album that really speaks to you?  I mean, we’ve heard “Promise Ring” and we’ve heard “I’m Grown,” but is there one that, when you were recording it, just really spoke to you?

Tiffany Evans: There is, and it’s the next single, actually.  It’s called “Lay Back & Chill.” It’s absolutely amazing.  Basically, I was happy that I got the record because a lot of women and young women will be able to relate to it—like “Wow, okay yeah, I understand where she’s coming from.”  Stress is something that I don’t need in my life, and the lyrics really spoke to me because I was going through a stressful period at the time.

Clayton Perry: How have your fans been treating you?  How have you been enjoying the tours?

Tiffany Evans: Oh, amazing.  It’s been going great. I’m actually on my way to L.A. right now and I’ve just been taking it in, one day at a time.  It’s so much, but God has been blessing me and I’m happy to be able to be doing what I’m doing right now.

Clayton Perry: Do you see yourself doing a lot more acting in the future?  Now that we’ve seen you in Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, I was wondering what else was on your plate.  Is there anything else you’re trying to venture into?

Tiffany Evans: Oh, I definitely want to make acting a part of my career.  A big part of my career.  It’s another way for me to express my feelings when I’m not singing.  I’ve been reading a lot of scripts and doing auditions, and the movies are coming in and I’m happy about that.  I love singing and dancing, but you will definitely see more of me doing the acting thing, showing people the serious side of me.

Clayton Perry: On the business side, who do you look up to?

Tiffany Evans: Jay-Z.  Everything he has done has been a benefit to him.  He’s just amazing on the business side.  So I want to be like him.

Clayton Perry: And on the singing side, whose career would you like yours to be like?

Tiffany Evans: Oh gosh, Michael Jackson!  I love him.  He is the King of all the music stuff and I just want to get to that spot.  I love him!

Clayton Perry: What’s a typical day in your life?

Tiffany Evans: Well, what I’m doing right now is a typical day.  I’m on my way to the airport, and we do it every day.  And we do interviews.  But when I’m home, I sleep.  I sleep a lot.  Because you know, you do so much and you’re traveling and it’s just so much going on.  You just need to let yourself fall asleep.  And I like to eat, too. I wake up and have some breakfast, go to sleep, eat some lunch, go to sleep, get on the computer, have some dinner, go to sleep…  [both laughing] I’m too tired when I get home.  I’m not lazy, though.  It’s just that when I get home and get comfortable, I just fall asleep all the time.

Clayton Perry: I feel you!  But one thing no one can ever call you is lazy.  You have managed to accomplish a great deal of work at such a young age, and I look forward to your growth and development over the coming years.

For more information on Tiffany Evans, visit her official website: http://www.tiffanyevansmusic.com


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