This article originally appears in the October 2016 issue of TMN Magazine, available digitally on Oct 30, 2016 .
In this worldwide TMN exclusive, Támar DAVIS has opened up about how she got started in music, about The Voice and the advice she would give contestants, details about her album “I am THE STORM”, how it feels to be A Grammy-Nominated artist, as well as sharing her beauty secrets.
Here, the full interview.
Támar DAVIS is an artist to keep your eyes on! She has a beautiful voice and is a true star in every sense of the word…
The Houston singer began her vocal career alongside Beyonce as a member of Girl’s Tyme and came under the tutelage of the legendary Prince before appearing as a standout contestant on Season 10 of NBC’s “The Voice.” She brings fans a new sound with this latest project, while remaining true to her soulful roots.
Described as an artist with “a voice that can fill three stadiums” by The New York Times, the versatile singer, songwriter and producer earned a Grammy nod for her songwriting collaboration with Prince on their duet, “Beautiful, Loved, and Blessed.”
On her latest musical venture, Támar joins forces with local talents to produce several songs on the CD, including “Sweet Music”” featuring Tony Henry and “Gift of Goodbye” and “When I Dream” featuring the Richard Brown Orchestra.
Having enjoyed success with her first album, Tamar Davis is about to unleash her talents on to us once again! “I Am the Storm” is the follow up to the Houston artist’s 2011 album, “My Name Is Támar,” independently produced by Syren Music Group, LLC. Tamar’s debut album garnered sales in the U.S. and overseas, including Canada, Japan, Barcelona, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Japan.
She has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. This lady is made to grace arenas with her raw and powerful talent. She has such warmth, depth and soul to her voice. She reminds us of an altogether different generation of singers – from a different era.
“I Am the Storm”
First of all, congratulations on the new album “I Am the Storm”. What drew you to a project like this? What were the inspirations for the album in particular?
Thank you. I have been working on my sophomore album for 7 years now, but since my departure from “The Voice” and a final conversation with my late great mentor Prince, I knew that I had to expedite the album. I was inspired by my supporters and my fans #TamFam, especially after the rave reviews and feedback from my performance of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down.” I remembered speaking with my family about how I wanted to continue to perform big ballads. I knew at that moment, it was a true calling to no longer procastinate and wait for the perfect opportunity, but to really move in faith and ironically, “I Am the Storm,” the title track was the very final song placed on the album.
What was your songwriting process?
Most of the songs were written either while I was driving, or while speaking to people about certain topics that I am passionate about: education and the arts. I learned that there is a unique sound that I have been blessed with, and because I enjoy talking, I enjoy telling stories. So I knew that I wanted to tell stories about everyday life. I knew after finishing “Motown the Musical” on Broadway, that I wanted to “get-a-way.” Or one of my favorites, “Gift of Goodbye” was created based on a facebook message that was sent to me from a dear friend encouraging me to let things go. Overall, songwriting on this album took time. I tweeked songs, deleted songs, started over with songs, and I even sought new and upcoming musicans, producers and writers for this album via social media.
Could you tell us about the recording process? How long did the full album process take you?
I’ve been recording this album for 7 years. I actually met my executive producer, Jermaine Williams, on myspace. After some time, he and I began to simply have writing sessions. One of my first songs produced with him was a Christian song. I remembered leaving the studio one day and returning to a fully produced song with nice musical elements. I was blown away by what he created and his expedited turn around of the song. From there we kept writing. Often times, I would record melodic ideas on my phone, send them to Jermaine, and he would turn around a basic production of the song. From there, I would record my entire vocals and let him have his way. That was our process. He’s a genius. I finished my final song, the title song, no lie, September 5, 2016.
Your album “My Name Is Támar”, had great critical praise and garnered sales in the U.S. and overseas, including Canada, Japan, Barcelona, the Netherlands, the UK… I’ve listened to your album and I really liked it because I could picture everything you were singing. I thought it had a theatrical and unique sound, which was really cool. Is this the same type of sound that we can expect on your new album “I Am the Storm”?
Thank you. My new album is completely new in sound and tone. I wanted to show my growth as not only a singer, but an actual producer. I forgot about all the stipulations that have been placed on me as a black singer, and stayed true to my favorite sounds of rock, pop, soul. I wanted to bring back the powerful ballads, thinking that one day an inspired singer would sing my songs on vocal competitions such as the Voice. On my first album, I didn’t think that way. I just wanted to get an album out to the public. But with this album, I stayed true to my uniqueness and my tenacity of not just sounding commercial, but sounding Támar.
This is one of my biggest challenges. But yes, yes, yes. I have just completed a video for the duet “Sweet Music” and I am excited at my new video team as we begin brainstroming visuals for “Gift of Goodbye” and “New Day.”
Is there a standout track for you on the album? A so-called ‘skip to’ track?
“New Day” and when I’m in need of encouragement, “Gift of Goodbye.” But when I am ready to blast my speakers and dance, I jam to “All Life Long.”
Could you sum up “I Am the Storm” in 5 words to give fans an idea of what to expect?
“Rock, funky, nuanced, melodic, real”
Támar DAVIS tells us all…
Please tell your fans 3 things you like/ 3 things you dislike.
I like to read. I like to teach about the music business and I like french fries lol. I dislike negativity. I dislike when people approach me one way, but try to get more in return. I dislike when someone doesn’t pull through on their words.
What motivates you in your career? In general, where do you draw inspiration for your sound? Is it more based off personal experiences or based off influences by other artists?
There’s several things that I draw from: Lately, I’ve been drawing from the lack of diversity in the entertainment business. I have been saddened by so many gatekeepers holding this torch that flames for us all. I am motivated by my supporters, TamFam, who consistenly send me messages asking about the business and also being encouraged by me perservering in this ever-changing entertainment business. I am also inspired by what I don’t hear which is what I know I bring to the sound of music. Where there is a lack, God seems to have that answer to fill that void. And I feel through it all, I have learned to trust the gift God has given and doors have continued to open because I have stayed true to my sound.
Can you tell us about your group Girl’s Tyme( which eventually became Destiny’s Child) experience?
I met Beyoncé and her family when I was around 9 years old in our hometown of Houston, TX during a vocal competition. I remebered being appraoched about a singing group and auditioning. I was accepted into the group and began traveling and recording with them. We were true little girls always having fun. After we performed on Star Search, I remembered alot of turmoil amonsgt the parents about new management and who who manage us. Being at that age, my protectors were my parents. And when my parents took me out of the group, I was back to being a solo artist.
You’ve worked with Prince in the past. How did that come about?
This is an entire story on its own. In a nut-shell, at the age of 14, I believe, my cousin passed a demo to Morris Hayes, Prince’s keyboardist. My mother and I were flown to Minneapolis and all I remember was walking the halls of Paisley Park and having photo shoots and recording a version of “Somehwere Over the Rainbow.” Needless to say, nothing happened then. Then in 2004, I was singing background for Tamia and while working with Tamia, I was blessed to work with Fatima Robinson. Fatima and I remained in touch over the year and out of nowhere, she contacted me to be involved in a video shoot. Needless to say, history was made. I met Prince…officially!
It seems your cooperation with Prince had a major role in your career. Do you think that influenced your style?
Definitely…definitely. I knew I liked Tina Turner and rock, but I knew I loved Barbra Streisand, Whiteny Houston, Celine Dion, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald (to name a few). But working and learning and hanging with Prince taught me about me. He used to tell me all the time, “Támar one day all of them (women I idolized) will want to meet you.” That one statement has transpired over the years. So in that, and in creating “I Am the Storm” I wanted to show more of my boldness and confidence by introducing my sound, Támars’ sound…and no one else’s and his influence is all there in my music and live performances.
How does it feel to be A Grammy-Nominated artist?
It’s so surreal. When I got the call that Prince and I were nominated for our co-written duet “Beautiful, Loved, and Blessed,” I immediatley went numb. Prince called me a few minutes later and asked me how I felt. But I knew emotionally and logistically I was trying to rationalize it. My album co-produced by Prince “Milk and Honey” was “shelved” but out of all songs he could’ve been nominated for, BLB (Beautiufl, Loved, and Blessed) was the song from his “3121” album, that received intial accolades. Wow…only God could’ve had that ram in the bush.
How do you handle emotional pain?
I read…I mediate…I pray…I write in my journal, I sing with tears in my eyes, and sometimes, I go to a coffee shop and binge on great shows such as Atlanta, Family Feud, the Get Down, and Homeland. If I can hug my neices and nephew, that changes my mood immediately!
Ever thought in your career to give up music?
I honestly never thought to give up music, but I have had thoughts to just get a music teaching job. It’s no joke being an indie artist. You are constantly seeking outlets, platforms to perform, radio stations to spin your music, while at the same time, not getting caught in the matrix of so many new outlets to get heard and be seen. I have finally rested in who I am and whose I am. You can’t take it away from me. As long as I have breath, I must keep going. I must keep seeking. I must keep doing. I must keep singing. I am going through all of this for others. I have created my own entertainment company Syren Music Group and initiatives, The Tamar Davis Project and The Syren Arts Academy, because there is a need for space for artists to truly be creative without being tied down and sugar-coated too about issues without being honest and transparent.
What’s been one of your biggest lessons so far in your life?
There are many routes to your promised land.
Just because people don’t return emails or phone calls or follow through on their word, the more you keep going, God has someone else who will be obedient to do for you what others were supposed to do.
You are also an actress! What sort of acting have you done? Television shows? Movies? Theatre? All of them?
I have performed in musical theatre all my life. I have been blessed to work with Mr. Tyler Perry on 5 of his stage plays, all set to DVD via LionsGate and right now, I am auditioning for television and film. I recently performed in the first national tour of Broadway’s “Motown the Musical” and I did have a guest role on “Boston Public” and have done some extra work, but deep down, I’m desiring for that break-out role.
Now, let’s talk about romance. Are you dating anybody right now? I recently got married in March of 2016. I am absolutely on cloud 9 still…
How do you try to relax when you’re not being a workaholic?
I have recenlty learned how to rest…literally. Stay at home and rest. And now of course, date nights are very frequent in my household!
What are all of the countries that you’ve been to so far in your life? What are your favorite cities?
My favorite, hands down, is SWITZERLAND. OMG…the beauty and the greenery and the hills and the stillness is priceless.
What made you choose Christina Aguilera as your mentor? Blake Shelton also turned his chair around.
I chose Christina because I thought it would be an interesting shift from the male mentorship I have been blessed with, to having a female mentor. And she is a powerful singer…I felt it would be great to get that female correction and attentiveness.
One of the most interesting parts of the show is that pretty much everybody in the blind auditions is really talented, but of course, not everybody is chosen. Did it ever occur to you when you got up onstage that for whatever reason, none of the judges would be interested? I imagine it must have been pretty scary. Did you ever get stage fright?
I had stage fright on my very last performance, ironically. For some reason, I didn’t feel settled: from my wardrobe to my song to my hair. I didn’t feel confident. And that had never happened before.
How did you prepare for the show each week? I think the people at home see a small piece of it, but they don’t get the full idea. I never actually prepared outside of resting and eating as best I could. I stayed away from dairy foods and specifically went to sleep playing yoga sounds. I tried to not over rehearse and over sing on my off days, and when I had off days, I made sure to sign up for a slot in the vocal rehearsal room and let go.
Do you think that the producers and the voters are really just looking for straight-up talent, or are things like image or age or marketability way more of a factor than they let on?
I actually have no clue. They were some of the best people I have ever worked with. The energy from the vocal teachers to the producers to the contestants was perfect. The energy was always welcoming.
How has your everyday life changed since your audition for The Voice was aired?
I cannot go anywhere without someone recognizing me. It is so weird. I can be coming from the gym or going into a beauty supply store and it’s a wrap. And of course, everyone says they voted for me.
What’s the greatest lesson the show taught you?
“Just becuase the outcome was not what you expected, it’s a platform that continues to accelerate you to where you’re suppose to be.”
If you could perform with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Barbra Streisand and Bruno Mars…and of course my favorite, PRINCE!
Do you have any kind of management, publishing or distribution team behind you? If so what are their responsibilities?
As of now, outside of my legal team, I don’t. I am in need of an entire team. Up until this moment, it has been my family and I, and the powerful grass-roots marketing in word of mouth. So anyone who is interested, I am open for conversation. Great question…thank you for asking!
What would your one piece of advice for aspiring young singers/artists be? And what tips can you offer young women discerning their God-given talents and purpose in life?
This is a lenghty answer. First, I have created VLOGS on my youtube channel educating aspiring talents about everything from copyright to performance techniques. Any and everyone should read about the music business. Whether you subscribe to a blog/vlog or read music sections in USA Today. You will be surprised at how your mind becomes inspired to create.
To young women, don’t compromise. Take a male or female guardian or someone you trust to every recording session and performance. And finally, don’t discuss business or personal issues that you have with others in the business. Find you that best friend who has no interest in your business and vent. I have seen innocent artist get caught in mess by discussing things that somehow get back to the very person you were talking about. And sometimes they are the very same people who can say “yes” or “no” to your next opportunity.
Aside from music, which we hope you’re making more of, what else do you have planned for the rest of 2016? Will you be taking a vacation?
Ironically, I am doing some promo performances as of now until day of Christmas. But my second vacation is at the top of my list before the year ends.
What is the goal for 2017? Do you have any other projects lined up besides your album?
I don’t have any immediate goals outside of more performances. My 6-week Syren Arts Academy will launch next summer as well. I am completing a memoir, which has been exhilarating and emotionally draining. But who knows? Maybe I will be starring in my own tv show!
Please send a message to your fans all over the world!
I enjoy my supporters #TamFam. You keep me inspired. I read every message as fast as I can when you write me. I especially appreciate and thank you from the bottom of my heart for you loyalty. Let’s keep shining and walking through open doors!
Thank you to Tamar DAVIS for her time!