For the music industry, GRAMMY nominee Tamar Davis is like an ice cold drink on a steaming hot day: deeply refreshing. In a world of Internet-created and marketing team-fabricated “entertainers,” Tamar (pronounced “Tay-mar”) emerges as a real singer with genuine talent and authentic appeal. Her entry into the music scene signifies a marked departure from a culture of cookie-cutter pop stars and evokes a time when singers with unadulterated talent sang from the soul.
This gifted singer-songwriter-performer has pipes powerful enough to light up an arena–or better yet, fill three stadiums, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Tamar’s beguiling voice, mesmerizing moves and enticing stage prowess give you something you can sho’ nuff feel. Keyboardist Morris Hayes puts it this way: “This girl can blow anyone off the stage vocally. There are no tricks or smoke and lights. She can turn it on and let it go.”
Tamar is indeed extraordinary. She’s one of the first unsigned R&B artists to be nominated for a GRAMMY. She was handpicked to record and tour with a musical legend. And even before releasing an album, the soulful songstress has established herself as a musical force that has made the world stop and take notice.
The songbird discovered her gift at age three. By nine, the Houston native was a lead vocalist in a group of six singing, dancing, rapping preteens called Girls Tyme. After losing on Star Search, the budding stars continued on separate paths. Tamar opted to pursue a solo career. (Three of her former Girl friends–Beyonce’ Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Latavia Robertson—would eventually form powerhouse Destiny’s Child.)
A few years later, Tamar’s demo caught the attention of music royalty: Prince. Tamar was invited to his Paisley Park studio and offered a production contract. Though she didn’t get to meet his royal badness and a deal wasn’t sealed, a seed was planted.
Tamar cultivated her talent at Houston’s Fame equivalent—The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts—and was among 20 honorees selected from a field of 8000 applicants for the Presidential Scholar for the Arts award. Intent on furthering her career and her education, Tamar headed to Los Angeles to study music at the University of Southern California. She graduated not only with classical training and a Bachelor of Music degree, but also with the ability to write and arrange music and sing in French, Italian, German, Swahili and Italian.
Tamar returned to the Star Search stage in 2004 for the “Battle of Champions.” Despite praise from judges like Naomi Judd—“ You have an amazing voice”–and show host Arsenio Hall—“It’s so unique. It has a Stephanie Mills/Whitney Houston vibe…”— she didn’t prevail in the competition. She also auditioned for the fourth season of American Idol; but didn’t make it in front of the three charismatic judges. A producer’s critique: Tamar was too polished. That polish served her well as she landed a gig as the lead vocalist of a grown-up girl group: a jazz/funk band called Angaza.
In early 2005, at the behest and invitation of famed choreographer Fatima Robinson, Tamar attended an awards show after party hosted by Prince. Seizing the opportunity, she reintroduced herself and a million dollar question followed. “Can you sing for me?” Prince asked. The answer was clear: Tamar blew him away and the seed began to grow.
Tamar became a vocalist in Prince’s band, performing at his renowned house parties, and even joining him on stage for a solo at the NAACP Image Awards. While contributing background vocals on Prince’s 3121 album, she also began recording her own. By the end of the year, the student and teacher were both signed to Universal Records. Now, Prince was ready to introduce his “favorite singer” to the world.
In 2006, the dynamic duo set off on a cross-country, 10-city tour. At the electrifying, sold-out shows reminiscent of old soul revues, the leading lady’s performances were the talk of the town. Commanding the stage, Tamar won over legions of Prince fans and gave music critics something to talk about.
In Philadelphia, Paul Altobelli wrote that Tamar “had the body and moves of Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin’s voice” and the City Paper lauded her “powerful voice and saucy showmanship.” The Washington Post reported that Tamar “impressed with choreographed calisthenics and luscious vocals.” Chicago’s Unrated Magazine said with “her soulful voice, sultry demeanor and magnetic stage presence…Tamar has all the makings to be a star.” The Pioneer Press in Minnesota marveled at her “magnificent and powerful voice.”
A veritable knock-out with voluminous hair, desirable curves and feisty moves, Tamar was by Prince’s side on “Saturday Night Live,” “Good Morning America,” and both the 2006 BET and Brit Awards. And yes, that’s Tamar working it in his Fury video.
With the introduction made, new fans yearned for more. Yet, the world wouldn’t get to know Tamar as quickly as planned; Universal decided not to release her album. But you can’t keep good music down. One of the many songs Tamar and Prince wrote and recorded together, the forcefully inspirational Beautiful, Loved and Blessed, was recently nominated for a GRAMMY.
Remarkably, she is now one of the first unsigned R&B artists to have been nominated for music’s highest honor and was just named Houston’s Rising Star 2007 (Ensemble Theatre). Set to make her mark, Tamar is focused her forthcoming debut solo album, aptly titled “To Be Continued…”
“Working on “To Be Continued…” was an adventure. I got a chance to write with Andrew Green, a profilic writer who 2 years prior wrote my single “X-Friend.” There were countless times when some sessions weren’t about recordings. We just sat and talked about what makes me happy to what makes me smile. Andrew would simply create around who I am and what makes me, Tamar. This is the first time the world will get a chance to hear a new sound and a new Tamar. What better way than to title it “TO BE CONTINUED….?”
Her creative partner helped Tamar handpick her newest songs, choosing music from Grammy-winning producers Jab and E. Poppy (Beyonce) and Grammy-nominated producers Sauce & Ro (Brandy). Their project showcases Tamar’s musical versatility and finesse at her arrangements of urban, r & b, and soul.
“I can’t write or sing anything without understanding the reason behind it,” says Tamar. “I want to tell a story through song in a way that the listener vicariously experiences what I’m feeling.”
Atmospheric love ballad “Once in Awhile” subtly plays up the soul and jazz nuances that color her “feel-this vocals”. “Runaway” reveals her penchant for arranging a ballad, “Eyes, Hips, Moves” delivers her understanding of how much fun a girl can have when she brings her man to the dance floor, while “Don’t Push Me”…
“Don’t Push Me” is a song that everyone can relate too. It depicts the sassy
side of a girl who says that there is a point in time where you can make a girl mad. But there are certain lines you cannot cross. And one of them is that once a person has been delivered from something in there past don’t keep bringing it up. Just leave it alone.
A child of the hip-hop generation, Tamar grew up under the influence of funky fresh beats and lyrical magic. But her distinctive sound is the result of a steady diet of artists as varied as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaugh, Sting, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Yolanda Adams, Barbara Streisand, Janet Jackson, Prince, Chaka Khan and AC/DC. Tamar’s funk, soul, gospel, jazz, pop and rock fusion classifies her as an innovative musician ready to take the music industry by force.
“Words can never describe the times of being in the studio or being on stage or headlining a Prince tour. He’s a genius. He’s a businessman. He’s innovative and he’s skilled. I can humbly say I’ve had the honor to be blessed with learning how to be an overall entertainer. Stepping out on my own was hard in the beginning because I started using the training wheels as a clutch. But when you are called to an industry that speaks to the heart of man, you have to continue to search for the high call. You can’t always hear when you’re leaning on man’s faith or desires. Prince told me I can be a pioneer in this business now I’ve got to fly and be that and more. The setbacks, trials, and tears have made me understand that your current circumstance does not depict where you’re going. Its through your faith and perseverance in God that takes you to where you need to be.”
As life goes, every student must one day leave the classroom, every child must leave home and every (song) bird must leave the nest and prepare to fly. As Tamar readies for flight, she knows a higher power will be the wind beneath her spread wings; this truth is captured in a line from Beautiful, Loved and Blessed, “Tamar, I will lead the way and you’ll go far.”
Armed with this faith, a lifetime of preparation and undeniable talent, Tamar Davis is ready to soar.
Check her out at www.tamardavis.com