JULY COVER: FAITH EVANS

COVER STORY: FAITH EVANS

By Teryl Warren

As outspoken, legendary singer Patti LaBelle recently noted: “The word ‘diva’ is being thrown so loosely… that it isn’t cute anymore.” The dictionary defines the word “diva” as “a highly distinguished female singer or prima donna.”  Music lovers, television audiences and admirers of strong women everywhere define ‘diva” as Faith Evans.

R&B superstar Faith Evans (Photo by Demetrius Everson)

For more than 20 years the beautiful New Jersey native has regaled us with her sultry voice, her stunning good looks and unwavering resilience.

I caught up with Faith as she celebrated her birthday and the release of her new single “I Deserve It.” Throughout the night, luminaries like Kelly Price, Tevin Campbell and T-Pain were quick to offer up their praise and admiration for the lady of the hour because, after all, she deserves it.

“Oh man, I love Faith Evans,” former Quincy Jones protege Tevin Campbell told us.” We go way back. We’ve worked together and she really means a lot to me as an artist and a person.”

“With everything Faith Evans does, she motivates people and inspires people to just be happy with their lives – not just in the music industry, but throughout the world,” hip hop superstar T-Pain said.

In a day of studio-made stars and one-hit wonders, Faith Evans is a true classic. She greets you with a firm handshake and a smile and looks you in the eye with every syllable as she speaks. Equal parts all- play and all-business, she possesses the powerful air of a woman who knows she has nothing to prove.

Check the record: two television series, three films, six studio albums and a Soul Train Award, MTV Music Video Award and Grammy – all of which she won for “I’ll Be Missing You” – a tribute to her late husband Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. Last fall, Faith announced that she’d begun working on her current album aptly titled Incomparable. For this, her 6th studio album, Faith enlisted the talents of her R&B Divas co-star Keke Wyatt, gospel star Karen Clark Sheard and rapper-super-producer Missy Elliott and Sharaya J  - both of whom are featured on the “I Deserve It” single.

T-Pain attends Faith Evans party (Photo by Demetrius Everson)

“This album reminds me a lot of my first album and my Faithfully album,” Faith told us. “It’s got the tempos and a certain vibe that I think people are really going to enjoy.”

And yet, despite the many albums, the numerous accolades and her obvious signs of moving on, much of  the hip hop generation, selfish as it may seem, will forever cling to the memories of the Faith Evans we first fell in love with: the brash,blonde first lady of Bad Boy who was queen to the label’s king -the Notorious B.I.G.

Thankfully, Faith has never begrudged our nostalgic tendencies.

On August 29, 2008, Faith released Keep the Faith – an autobiography she wrote with Aliya S. King.

The reason for writing the book was simple: ”I want people to understand that although he was a large part of my life, my story doesn’t actually begin or end with Big’s death. My journey has been complicated on many levels. And since I am always linked to Big, there are a lot of misconceptions about who I really am. It’s not easy putting your life out there for the masses. But I’ve decided I’ll tell my own story. For Big. For my children. And for myself.”

Her book was listed in the Top 20 of the New York Times Best Sellers list and, in 2009, received the African American Literary Award for Best Biography/Memoir.

Faith Evans’ life journey has taken her from tragedy to triumph and back, with many of her personal battles being fought under the glare of flashing lights and public scrutiny.  Putting her story down on paper was one thing, but putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what, as she told us, would require a little help from above.

“I pray,” she replied. “I’ve never been someone who’s taken myself too seriously. I think God has used me to be a blessing to people to come from where I’ve come and still be successful. I’m just trying to be the person that He wants me to be and to keep making good music.”

Faith Evans and Tevin Campbell (Photo by Demetrius Everson)

 

Faith Evans leads by example. And, although she, herself, never had to tow the road of an indie artist trying to break into the music business, she, like anyone who has “made it” knows that, no matter what path you take, the road to success is paved with struggle.

“You can [make it in the business] on your own. Even if you don’t know anyone who has a lot of coin.  You need to be prepared to struggle, but believe that you can definitely make a statement on your own. And if you can make enough of a statement, you can get someone behind you that will help take you to the next level.”

Mother.Author.Singer.Songwriter.Producer, and much, much more. Faith Evans is the type of mother who will take on a blogger who talks smack about her children with the fierceness of a lioness. She’s the type of artist who, on an L.A. night filled with parties, will have some of the biggest stars in the business come pay their respect to her. Faith Evans is the type of woman who can sing “Happy Birthday” to herself a cappella  in a house packed with powerhouse voices and bring a crowd to its feet.

In fact, on this night, that’s exactly what she did. And we loved her for it.

Faith Evans blows out her birthday candles (Photo by Demetrius Everson)

 

Check out “I Deserve It” and let us know your thoughts!

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