Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Faith Evans: Words Of Faith

Faith Evans
Faith Evans Faith Evans Faith Evans Faith Evans

Since her heady days at Bad Boy Entertainment in the mid 90’s, 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 industry’s biggest superstars. This however, was set against the backdrop of a turbulent marriage to one of hip hop’s biggest icon’s, the late Notorious B.I.G. Eighteen years on from Biggie’s passing, Faith’s 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, “Incomparable”, and a long awaited memoir finally on book shelves, it’s 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, “It 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 that’s 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 we’re talking about was stuff that was going on in in my life.” The project lead single “Fragile” has and old school flavour with a modern twist. The track itself was originally conceived years ago while she was working with Diddy ”Ironically, 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 vocals”, she says while recalling her earliest musical memories. “I listened to a very diverse group of artists”, it wasn’t 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.”

But “Incomparable” is not the only project Evans has been working on lately. She gives us a sneak peek into the progress of “The King and I”, the eagerly anticipated album of duets with Biggie. “Over time the feeling of it being a bittersweet thing or more of an emotional thing is in those moments where we’re all together. I don’t know…it’s weird” she says, when explaining the album’s inevitable emotional impact. “It’s 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, it’s like dang, it could come out right now. It’s definitely not a sad feeling when I hear his voice. I’m actually looking forward to getting into this project ‘cause my plan is to go through a lot of his stuff, but mostly I have to deal with accapellas ultimately. It’s going to be fun. I’ve already started on a couple of songs. It’s a really good start to the project.”

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 “@lilkimthequeenbee making it do what it do.” Speculation about B.I.G’s 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 “the feud is finally over.” “I think it’s the first time people have seen us... it’s 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 it’s the first time I’ve been on a show with her probably since then. There was really no beef to bury; I didn’t really have any issue with anybody. As far as I’m concerned I haven’t had a beef with her but I think because that’s the first time people saw me post something or say something…but every time I see her I say hello. I’m not that type of person, I’m not going to let someone else’s 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 don’t understand the sensationalism of it.”

While the release of her autobiography, “Keep The Faith: A Memoir” 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 book’s contents “No, (I’m not worried) because I was very careful from the beginning to be tactfully honest, I think that’s the key. It’s not my job to tell other people’s stories but if something happened to me I’m going to tell my side of what happened but I’m 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, “whose going to be mad at your book?, that’s not the publisher to go with because that’s not what I’m trying to accomplish with my book. Granted, there are some people that might not be happy with some stuff and I know that wasn’t my goal. I just told my truth. I know I was coming from the right place”.

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? “It’s impossible to separate; He’s always been a big part of my life. It is what it is, but it’s not a bad thing. There was a time, long ago in my career, not so much that I didn’t 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. It’s about being media savvy and understanding how to not talk about stuff you don’t want to talk about. I can say, “that’s not up for discussion” if I don’t want to talk about it. It’s all good. It’s different too, because you’re speaking about someone that hasn’t been on this Earth in a long time, so he’s not here to speak for himself. But I’m definitely one of those people that could speak on his behalf and have more of an insight, but I don’t speak on his behalf - it doesn’t bother me. I don’t 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 didn’t think I was ready to do a book, I’ve still got a lot more stuff to do career wise. I think it’s 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.”

With the three year anniversary of Whitney Houston’s passing upon us, Evans reminisces about fun times they shared together. “Every time I was around her we had a good time. Sometimes that’s 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 Versace’s 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 Puff’s parties, so at least I was comfortable. So I sat next to her and acted like I really fit in!


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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 spotlight…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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