For over 20 years, soulful songbird Tamia has thrilled listeners with her growing catalogue of classics.
And beyond her gravitas on record, she’s earned ample acclaim for her finesse as a live performer.
That Grape Juice caught up with the Canadian diva ahead of her upcoming show at London’s KOKO.
During our chat, the six-time Grammy nominee opened up about her career, concerts, new music, and much more.
Join us after the jump…
That Grape Juice (Sam): You’re back on the road! We know your fans in London, South Africa, and the like are excited to see you. What would you say makes these audiences different to those in the US?
Tamia: I really do feel like the great thing about music is that it connects people together, heart to heart. It brings you to a certain place, it makes you remember certain things, it helps you get over certain things. And so that way the audiences are very much the same, it’s very sort of enthusiastic and we’re all there on a journey. I’ve been doing this almost 20 years, so hopefully I help bring you through things and connect you with people and so together we just go on a journey. I’ve been very fortunate the crowds have always been so great and so loving. I always want to go where the love is and so wherever I’m at I feel the connection with the audience through the music.
That Grape Juice: What goes into your preparation process for?
Tamia: Well the most difficult thing with this tour, we just did it in the States and like you said, we’re continuing, is selecting music. I was just talking to my MD, Shep Crawford who did ‘Stranger In My House’ and a whole bunch of songs. But it’s choosing the material, choosing which songs I have time to do. There tends to be a lot of spontaneous moments and inevitably I leave and someone says, “Oh but you didn’t sing this song,” you only have so much time. So that’s sort of the most difficult thing, but I think it’s a good problem to have.
That Grape Juice: What is your favorite song to perform?
Tamia: That’s a difficult one because there are different songs that you like for different reasons. I love ‘Officially Missing You,’ I love ‘Stranger,’ I love ‘Passion Like Fire’ and ‘Leave It Smokin,’ that’s a great song too. ‘Still’ is fun.
It just depends; there’s certain I go and do songs I don’t necessarily do in my show in the States because certain songs do well in different markets. So that’s going to be fun, revisiting songs I don’t necessarily sing all the time.
That Grape Juice: Your current album ‘Passion Like Fire’ received a solid reception from fans. Even if that’s the focus at the moment, are you thinking of the next project, are we still working this album? Is there any kind of hints you could give us about what’s to come in 2019?
Tamia: Interesting question. Because this is the world we live in, you put out an album in 2018, they’re like, “When is the next one?” But I am actually plotting a few things for that. But one of the great things about working on an album is you’re in the studio, you pick songs that you love, that you put on a project and you love them. It’s like the movie comes to life when you perform them. So to me that’s the best part of doing an album is performing and seeing how certain songs affects people or how looking at people in the audience and seeing how these songs are translating to them. So that’s the fun part, I’m going to have a little bit of fun this first quarter of the year in sort of travelling and performing and then I’ll get back to creating again.
That Grape Juice: At this point – having topped the charts, earned critical acclaim, Grammy nods, and the like – how do you measure success?
Tamia: For me personally, I measure success by being able to own myself and if I want to do something I do it and if I don’t, I don’t [laughs]. And being able to do something that I love. At the end of the day being able to say, “You know what, I love this job” I love being able to connect with people through the music. There’s nothing like standing on stage and seeing someone crying because a song that you wrote brought them through something, that’s an amazing feeling. And sort of you realize how powerful music is.
That Grape Juice: Switching gears, what is your dream collaboration – from an artist or even producer standpoint?
Tamia: I’ve been so fortunate starting with Quincy Jones, to work with so many great producers and Babyface and singers like Chaka Khan, and Eric Benét. So I’ve been so fortunate in that. I never really set out to work with people, I just try to remain open. So I will continue to do that, just remain open and you never know what happens.
That Grape Juice: You have such a beautiful family. How would you feel about your daughters pursuing music?
Tamia: I think I would definitely be a complete stage mom [laughs]. But I think that it’s important in whatever you do to learn more about the business aspect of it then the music. There is where your longevity is. If you can navigate through the business side of anything, that’s where the most impact comes from. I guess that works in any job that you’re going into. Understanding where you want to go, what your overall sort of goals are, I think that it’s important that they would learn the business side of the music. Obviously if they want to go in music, they have talent, that’s not a problem. And in this business, it’s not necessarily about talent. You see people who are talented all the time and it just doesn’t work out, but they navigated through the business. So that’s the important part.
That Grape Juice: While you’re renown for your slow jams, songs like ‘Too Grown For That’ prove Tamia knows how to turn-up too. What would we surprised to learn you listen to?
Tamia: Well, having two daughters 17 and 11, they control all of the music that we listen to at any given time. So of course, my 11-year-old, she’s a big Hip-Hop head. And then my 17-year-old, she’s very cool, vibey, music. I listen to it all.
That Grape Juice: As a real-life basketball wife would you ever consider reality TV?
Tamia: No, it’s not really my thing. I think that for me I’m already a private person as it is, so I think that’s all about sharing. It’s never really been something that we’ve been into doing. There are certain things that we did, last year (my husband) Grant and I did the ‘Black Love’ series that’s on Oprah’s network, that was a fun thing to do. But other than that, when we’ve been approached to do certain shows, it just hasn’t been something that’s been appealing to us.
That Grape Juice: You’ve performed with the Winans’ recently at BET gospel as well as a tribute to Yolanda Adams last year. Have you ever considered your own Gospel album?
Tamia: It’s something that I’ve thought about, and I try to do at least one Gospel song on every album or an inspirational song, but there are a few things I’m trying to work out now, so that may be in the books, but we’ll see.
That Grape Juice: What message do you have for fans that are going to be seeing you in London and other international regions as well, what message do you have for them ahead of those shows?
Tamia: I think the most important message is music brings people together and so that’s what I want to do. My band and I, we’ve been doing this for years together, so it’s like one big jam session onstage, and so we have a lot of fun and I hope everyone comes out ready to have a good time. Let’s just have fun. A couple of hours of letting it all go and just sort of being in the moment.
Visit Live Nation to find out when Tamia is heading to a city near you!