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Issue 1084

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Feature

Faith Evans: Words Of Faith

Faith Evans @bluesandsoul.com
Faith Evans @bluesandsoul.com Faith Evans @bluesandsoul.com Faith Evans @bluesandsoul.com Faith Evans @bluesandsoul.com

Since her heady days at Bad Boy Entertainment in the mid 90âs, Faith Evans has dealt with a roller-coaster of tragedy and triumph. In her twenty year career, Evans has achieved the success of million selling albums, multiple awards and collaborations with some of the industryâs biggest superstars. This however, was set against the backdrop of a turbulent marriage to one of hip hopâs biggest iconâs, the late Notorious B.I.G. Eighteen years on from Biggieâs passing, Faithâs career and personal life has continued to evolve, with a move to an independent label and TV projects added to her list of accomplishments. Now, with a new album, âIncomparableâ, and a long awaited memoir finally on book shelves, itâs clear the first lady of R&B is busier than ever before.

Our conversation opens with Faith explaining why her latest album is some of her most intimate work to date, âIt was just a place I was in at that time. It was probably a couple of years after my divorce (from her second husband, Todd Russaw) and that was kind of going on. I just happened to be in the studio and thatâs what kind of came out creatively. Just the fact that I put it in a story form, it kind of came at the end. What was on the record and the things that we weâre talking about was stuff that was going on in in my life.â The project lead single âFragileâ has and old school flavour with a modern twist. The track itself was originally conceived years ago while she was working with Diddy âIronically, I told Puffy I wanted him to do something with the Mamas and Papas song eight years ago. He probably gave me that track about seven years ago and I just never got around to writing to it until now. I always incorporate my different influences, whether it be by borrowing musically or melodically with the vocalsâ, she says while recalling her earliest musical memories. âI listened to a very diverse group of artistsâ, it wasnât just gospel and R&B. My mother was the only black singer in a white band, so her collection of music was very well rounded. It was everything from Earth, Wind & Fire to The Mamas & The Papas, Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez.â

But âIncomparableâ is not the only project Evans has been working on lately. She gives us a sneak peek into the progress of âThe King and Iâ, the eagerly anticipated album of duets with Biggie. âOver time the feeling of it being a bittersweet thing or more of an emotional thing is in those moments where weâre all together. I donât knowâ¦itâs weirdâ she says, when explaining the albumâs inevitable emotional impact. âItâs definitely more of a celebratory thing. Of course I hear his voice all the time. Just the impact that he made, when you hear it, itâs like dang, it could come out right now. Itâs definitely not a sad feeling when I hear his voice. Iâm actually looking forward to getting into this project âcause my plan is to go through a lot of his stuff, but mostly I have to deal with accapellas ultimately. Itâs going to be fun. Iâve already started on a couple of songs. Itâs a really good start to the project.â

Social media went into meltdown recently after Faith posted a picture of Lil Kim performing at the Hot 97 Tip-Off concert at Madison Square Garden on Instagram with a caption that read â@lilkimthequeenbee making it do what it do.â Speculation about B.I.Gâs affair with Kim during his marriage to Faith has surrounded both artists for years. These days though, Faith clearly wants to move on from the drama of the past. In fact she laughs at the suggestion âthe feud is finally over.â âI think itâs the first time people have seen us... itâs the first time I was on a show with her ever, other than in 95 / 96 when Junior Mafia first came out, they might have been on a show with B.i.G when all of the Bad Boy artists where together. I remember being on a show back in the day but itâs the first time Iâve been on a show with her probably since then. There was really no beef to bury; I didnât really have any issue with anybody. As far as Iâm concerned I havenât had a beef with her but I think because thatâs the first time people saw me post something or say somethingâ¦but every time I see her I say hello. Iâm not that type of person, Iâm not going to let someone elseâs energy affect the room I have to be in so typically I try and set the energy. I just posted a picture that said she was doing her thing. I donât understand the sensationalism of it.â

While the release of her autobiography, âKeep The Faith: A Memoirâ has given Faith the opportunity to set the record straight on many old rumours, the book has also caused some controversy as it chronicles among other things, rejecting sexual advances from Tupac and physical altercations she had with other women. In hindsight, Evans has no regrets about the bookâs contents âNo, (Iâm not worried) because I was very careful from the beginning to be tactfully honest, I think thatâs the key. Itâs not my job to tell other peopleâs stories but if something happened to me Iâm going to tell my side of what happened but Iâm very careful not to over step my boundaries. I always told Aliya (S. King) who I collaborated with, even when I was on the phone with different publishers, I knew the ones that said, âwhose going to be mad at your book?, thatâs not the publisher to go with because thatâs not what Iâm trying to accomplish with my book. Granted, there are some people that might not be happy with some stuff and I know that wasnât my goal. I just told my truth. I know I was coming from the right placeâ.

But with her story so intrinsically intertwined with that of Notorious B.I.G, did she ever feel stifled by the constant questions about her life with the hip hop legend? âItâs impossible to separate; Heâs always been a big part of my life. It is what it is, but itâs not a bad thing. There was a time, long ago in my career, not so much that I didnât want to talk about it, but those questions came in more than about whatever it was that I was trying to promote. But at the same time, that was also what was going on in my life so hey, it is what it is. Itâs about being media savvy and understanding how to not talk about stuff you donât want to talk about. I can say, âthatâs not up for discussionâ if I donât want to talk about it. Itâs all good. Itâs different too, because youâre speaking about someone that hasnât been on this Earth in a long time, so heâs not here to speak for himself. But Iâm definitely one of those people that could speak on his behalf and have more of an insight, but I donât speak on his behalf - it doesnât bother me. I donât know (if I dispelled any misconceptions) but I hope I did accomplish with my book (telling my side of the story) was my point for doing the book. They pursued me for a few years and I really didnât think I was ready to do a book, Iâve still got a lot more stuff to do career wise. I think itâs a very good book. I read it a lot form time to time, just to laugh at some of the crazy stuff that has happened in my life.â

With the three year anniversary of Whitney Houstonâs passing upon us, Evans reminisces about fun times they shared together. âEvery time I was around her we had a good time. Sometimes thatâs was why she came to visit me. We ended up being neighbours when I lived in Atlanta. We would just chill and talk shit, you know! (Laughs) She was definitely comfortable around me to be herself, but I think one of the most memorable times for me was when she and Bobby took me to this party at Donatella Versaceâs house. I walked in the door and there was Madonna and Demi Moore, all these really super famous people. I had already met Naomi Campbell at some of Puffâs parties, so at least I was comfortable. So I sat next to her and acted like I really fit in!

THE ALBUM "INCOMPAREABLE" IS OUT NOW ON ABSOLUTE

faithevansmusic.com

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To read more from our interview with Faith Evans, including her thoughts on fellow R&B Diva's and her life away from the spotlightâ¦Pick up a copy of the latest Blues & Soul magazine at your local magazine retailer, inc; WH Smith, Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and a plethora of independents everywhere⦠if they don't stock it, ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will get it for you.
Words Karen Lawler

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