Two-and-a-half years have elapsed since 18-year-old Tiffany Evans’ sparkling vocals have graced the airwaves. But don’t take her missing-in-action ways as a sign she’s out of the music circuit for good. The petite star’s been busy crafting the follow-up to her 2008 self-titled debut. While the sophomore project has a title she’s yet to reveal, the mature Ms. Evans talks openly about her new single, the piano-laden ballad “I’ll Be There,” to a crowd of high school students. “It’s very inspirational,” she shares at the “I Will Graduate” concert inside the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. “I hope you feel it and love it.”
After shaking the hands of staunch supporters while performing on stage, Tiffany, who recently signed to a management deal with Mathew Knowles’ Music World Entertainment, grabs a seat and crosses her legs ever so lady-like, to discuss her return to the capricious music business. Read on as the cheerful songstress reveals why she had trouble turning to singers like Ciara for advice, the singing legend who inspires her, and the rap song that keeps her on her feet. This soul sister knows a good 16 when she hears it.
1. You recently shot the video for “I’ll Be There.” What can we expect to see you doing in the video?
The director’s name is Adam Tillman. Really the video is going to be very inspirational. We want it to be beautiful. We want to focus on the characters in the video—a woman that is going through a breakup, a frightened child, and an underachieving teen. We want them to feel like they’re going to go through a depressed, sad stage, and think everything is over. Then you have me praying for them and wishing the best for them. Magically, they start feeling hope and receive messages of hope and love in their hands.
2. You had Ciara on your debut single “Promise Ring.” She seemed like a big sister to you. Did you ever turn to her or anyone else in the music industry for advice?
It was actually no one. I could talk to people as much as I wanted to and call my friends as much as I wanted to and try to talk to them, but it started with me. Once I realized that, everything started to change.
3. Where have you called home throughout the years?
I grew up in the South Bronx [in New York], Gun Hill Road, White Plains. I lived in Queens as well. I lived everywhere.
4. Finish this sentence: The best thing about growing up in the Bronx is…?
The ice man. He’s the Italian ice man and he comes around with his little metal cart. He has different flavors—cherry, sometimes pineapple. My favorite is coconut.
5. What’s one rap song you just can’t get out of your head?
This is a bad one, but a good one. [Sings] Big Meech, Larry Hoover, “B.M.F.” by Rick Ross. That song just exudes so much swagger it’s ridiculous. Even if you don’t like Rick Ross, you’re going to be like, “Oh yeah!”
6. Which aspect of your career are you trying to master?
I want to learn to play guitar. The biggest one is winning a bunch of Grammys.
7. Your sophomore album has been floating around with the title of Miss Tiffany, which hints at a more mature sound. How have you grown since the release of your first album?
Now [the album is] untitled. I know I had it out there [as Miss Tiffany] before. I have been out of the spotlight for three years, so I’ve had a lot of time to experience things. I think the most important was learning how to love. I’ve already loved, just being able to trust and know not everybody is out there to hurt me and get me. When I was younger, when you guys saw me, when I did “Promise Ring” and “I’m Grown,” I wasn’t really confident and secure. Now I think the experience that has made me become a woman is learning to know that everyone is not the enemy.
8. Who are some of the producers you’re working with on the new album?
A-Rex, they did Justin Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl.” They’re made up of two producers—they’re really amazing. One writer I’m going to name is Cri$tyle. She’s done Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body” and Beyoncé’s “Scared of Lonely.” Me and her have been working together and it’s turning out amazing.
9. Is there one artist who has inspired your career?
My inspiration is Whitney Houston. She’s the reason why I sing. But now, I listen to Kings of Leon. That’s why I want to play guitar. When I hear them sing and perform, you feel it for real. I love them, they’re so dope.
10. What’s one item you never forget to go out of the house with each day?
Earrings… No, wait, my phone.