Written By: Melody Charles
If you’re a music fan who reminisces fondly about 1990s R&B, your recollections wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Faith Evans. Not only did the mulch-faceted singer and songwriter carve out her musical legacy behind the boards for some of the biggest and brightest in the business (Mary J. Blige, SWV and Usher, to name a few), she established herself as a solo hit-making force to be reckoned with before and after her tumultuous marriage to the Late, great Notorious BIG.
In the 20 years since her sultry soprano first hit the airwaves, Ms. Evans has maintained a longevity that newbies can only dream of, spinning her gifts into a catalog of smash CDs (including 2012’s charitable tribute to the late Whitney Houston, Faith Evans R&B Divas), a Grammy Award, a best-selling memoir and a second season as a co-Executive Producer on TVOne’s hit reality series, R&B Divas.
With kids to raise, new music in the works and her first-ever performance as a headliner at this years’ Essence Music Festival, Faith doesn’t have a lot of free time on deck, but that didn’t keep her from giving Knowshi some Q&A time to discuss new music, Divas’ second season and why she feels that she’s finally earned the right to claim that lofty title for herself.
MELODY CHARLES- Great talking to you today Faith, Happy 2013! Did you have a good Mother’s Day? How is the family doing?
FAITH EVANS: “The family’s good, just trying to finish up the school year and looking forward to them being with my mom for 3 weeks (laughing). I actually was in the studio [on Mother’s Day], my daughter [Chyna] went and bought some breakfast from Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. But it was nice.”
MC- I’ve been watching this season of “R&B Divas” so far and….wow. It’s deep.
FE: (chuckling) “Tell me about it….it’s been interesting.”
MC- That clashing between Nicci (Gilbert) and Syleena (Johnson), the additions of (former Xscape member) Latocha Scott and industry veteran Angie Stone—-is that what we’re seeing right now, strong-willed personalities trying to work together that end up clashing in the ‘get to know you’ phase, or….
FE: “We’re all strong-willed, but a lot of the things being seen have nothing to do with what we’re [ultimately] filming. I think that some people tend to be willing to play up things and put things in a context they don’t belong in for TV, I’ll just say that much. It’s leftover stuff.”
MC- OH, I got you. What has had you in the studio so much?
FE: “I working on my 8th album, I have a lot of material and now we’re kind of finishing up.”
MC- Yes! Do you have any special guests in the mix with you? I heard something about something with Christopher Williams and—-
FE: “That rumor about a possible duet with Christopher Williams started because he came to the studio. He and I go waaaay back, my daughter’s father was signed with him as a producer before I was even in the music business, when I was just the pregnant baby mother who could sing and write songs (cracks up). He visited me in the studio and we posted a video about it on Twitter, but that was all. I don’t have any duets, but I have incredible music that feels really good that I know my fans will appreciate.”
MC- Good, keeping our eyes and ears peeled for that one Faith. I think what keeps people feeling your music after all these years is the care you put into crafting a song—you don’t chase what’s hot, you don’t follow formulas or anything like that, but you always attempt to make something worthwhile and timeless.
FE: “That’s definitely what I try to do. I’m glad to hear you say that because it helps me to stay steadfast in what I believe in. I know what I feel [makes good music] and whether it’s 1000, 10,000 or a million listening, if someone hears it and says that it’s good, that’s what I want.”
MC- How excited are you about headlining at the Essence Festival for the first time? Do you have your set list already put together?
FE: “It’s gonna be fun—-I have so many records that, even if you include my features, I can’t even do half the ones that people usually request. I did add a short medley of what I typically perform at my shows, that’s one thing that I am gonna do that will be a little different.”
MC- What’s the one song you can’t go without singing?
FE: “I think if I ever got on stage and didn’t do ‘Soon As I Get Home,’ it would be ‘Boo! What? BOO!’ (laughs) I can’t not do that one!”
MC-No argument here. I remember the last time you were there at the Festival, it was part of the soul tribute with the Divas to artists that had recently passed, Whitney Houston being one of them. Besides making that tribute CD for her last year, how have you been coping with that loss?”
FE: “Well, I still check on her family through her assistant Ulysses and I send messages to her mother and her daughter Kris all the time. I miss her and it was an honor for me to know her away from the recording studio. She was a beautiful, beautiful person. No matter what people say or what they think about her [addiction], she was really an awesome person.”
MC- I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s crazy that you’ve been on the scene for almost 20 years and some don’t know about how much you wrote behind the scenes for other artists. Why do you think that is?
FE: “Most of my writing was done for my projects between the first and second albums, before I’d started writing for them. After that, things changed drastically in my life, I had started to get big [in my own right] and then I wasn’t doing it that much. But even before I had a deal, I was writing songs and making demos just to hear myself because I was good at it!” (laughing)
MC- So, are you now cool with others seeing you as a ‘diva’?
FE: “[What makes someone] a ‘diva’ could mean many things. I guess what makes me one and has helped me to maintain my career through the years, the changes in my personal life and the industry as a whole is that I’ve learned to make the right decisions. Sometimes you just can’t be in a rush: you gotta wait, you gotta pray, think about what feels right, and for me, I have to do things that make sense for me and my family. I know now about looking at the big picture, seeing all the little dots…”
MC- Speaking of the big picture, has their been any movement in the Notorious BIG murder case?
FE: “There’s a lot of action going on [behind the scenes] that you just don’t hear about, but as far as the LAPD saying they’re going to arrest or impicate someone anytime soon…..no. For right now, we just have to wait and pray that things transpire that will force them to do the right thing.”
MC- Well, thank you for squeezing us in Faith: no matter what you’re doing—gospel, R&B, TV—we’ve got you.”
FE: “Oh yay, thank you! I like to hear that.”