The Faith Evans "R&B Divas" SoulTracks interview

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    If phrases like “dented can of green beans,”  “five dollar water bottle” and “We’re not going to have that conversation with COCKTAILS!” sound familiar to you, chances are you’re part of the loyal viewership that watched TV One’s hit reality series, R&B Divas. In its eight episodes (the season finale aired on Monday), the reality show showed the private sides of five popular soul songstresses---Monifah Carter, Nicci Gilbert, Faith Evans, Syleena Johnson and Ke Ke Wyatt, who were all pursuing different personal and professional goals while they united to accomplish a common cause: recording a tribute CD to honor the memory of, and benefit the NJ academy named for, their late friend and mentor, Whitney Houston.

    If phrases like “dented can of green beans,”  “five dollar water bottle” and “We’re not going to have that conversation with COCKTAILS!” sound familiar to you, chances are you’re part of the loyal viewership that watched TV One’s hit reality series, R&B Divas. In its eight episodes (the season finale aired on Monday), the reality show showed the private sides of five popular soul songstresses---Monifah Carter, Nicci Gilbert, Faith Evans, Syleena Johnson and Ke Ke Wyatt, who were all pursuing different personal and professional goals while they united to accomplish a common cause: recording a tribute CD to honor the memory of, and benefit the NJ academy named for, their late friend and mentor, Whitney Houston.

    Thanks to the success of the show and its companion CD of the same name, the five Divas have enjoyed the heightened profiles and recognition that their talents so richly deserve, and according to its co-creator and a producer of the series, Faith Evans, don’t look for a curtain call from any of the ladies just yet. During my phone conversation with The First Lady of R&B, rumors were put to rest, her priorities were reiterated and she shared advice about the first thing a prospective artist should do if they’re making moves in the music business…..

    MELODY CHARLES-Good afternoon Faith, thanks for making time for us today, I know you’ve been mad busy.

    FAITH EVANS-I’ve been doing some here and there stuff, not a lot of traveling because I’ve been sick.

    MC- Oh wow, sorry to hear that Faith, are you feeling any better?

    FE- “I’m a lot better-- I was really sick last week, but I’m feeling good now.”

    MC- Glad to hear that, just like I was happy to see the new R&B Divas CD debut at #1 on itunes and the highly-rated reality show, congratulations! I don’t see how anyone doubted it would be a hit.

    FE- “Well, first of all, thank you, but I can tell you why even  I thought it wouldn’t work (laughs). There are so many other shows out there that people could’ve chosen to watch and they chose ours, so you just never know.”

    MC- Has it been renewed for a second season yet?

    FE-“ There hasn’t been any official word about it, but I’m very confident that it will be renewed for a second season.”

    MC- Will Nicci Gilbert still be a part of the cast if it returns? There’s been a lot of rumors going around that she won’t.

    FE-“ We both have the same deal on the show: she’s the co-creator, and if it wasn’t for Nicci, none of the other ladies would be a part of the show, including myself, because it was her idea to begin with. So unless she sells over her rights….”

    MC- Where do you believe that talk is coming from?

    FE- I guess the rumors are from people’s awareness of the show and I guess that’s fine, but Nicci and I have been friends for a long time and she isn’t the villain that everybody seems to think that she is. She’s a very no-nonsense and direct person, and what you’re typically seeing is her reacting to some aspect of the handling of her business and then being forced to defend her dignity, and then you’re only seeing her reactions to it. It’s all good because I’m sure that’s what ultimately the editors wanted to accomplish, and I’m not saying that what you saw wasn’t said or done, but what’s being seen isn’t what people are able to get the whole picture of and…. Nicci ain’t going nowhere, I’ll say that much.”

    MC- Well, whenever I watch the show, you hang back and come across as a ‘den mother,’ so to speak----you’re managing the conflicts, getting everyone on board with things….

    FE-….” That’s who I am!” (laughing)

    MC-Do you think we’ll see you all on the road anytime soon? Because you haven’t been to Dallas in a hot minute.

    FE- “I wouldn’t be opposed to it and I’m sure that the ladies would be very excited to do something like that, it’s really a matter of a promoter feeling like the show is something that they would want to invest in. . The funny thing is that it’s was Nicci’s initial idea when she came to me about doing a show in the first place.”

    MC- To tour?

    FE- “Yes---she had suggested that we all go out on tour together, and I told her, from a producing perspective, it wasn’t going to happen (as a reality show premise) unless we were already going out on tour. It’s typically how it goes, if you have a record on the charts, that’s how they book people anyway.”

    MC-It’s good to see and hear something so beautiful come out of all that grief.

    FE-“ Exactly: after Whitney died, the idea that I had about to do this album with all of these females came to me and I said, ‘well, maybe the show should be about that.’ I’m also glad I chose this route because it’s very powerful to people.”

    MC-Well, I’ll be glad whenever you roll through, and I’m loving the CD: my daughters love the theme song and they’re always sing the part about ‘let me see you wave your hands in the air if you love yourself.’

    FE-“Aw, that’s beautiful. That’s what it’s all about.”

    MC- Do you have any favorite songs?

    FE- “Well, ‘Tears of Joy’ is one and I really, really like ‘Mr. Supafly,’ Ke Ke’s song.”

    MC- I’ve been a fan of yours from Day One, and what I’ve always liked about you is that you’ve always had a way with melodies and you really craft songs well. That’s what I would say as a critic, anyway.

    FE- “Wow, thank you.”

    MC- What do you think has kept you so in-demand after so long? It’s been practically 20 years since your debut dropped and you’re still killing it.

    FE-“ Understanding that it’s all because of God, number one: whatever it is that’s good about me, it comes from Him, I always recognize that. I remember from my very first record, I was like, ‘do you think they’ll even like my music?’ because you can’t take for granted that people are always going to like what you do, cuz’ they don’t, but at the same time, I always know that there is an audience out there and I know that if I continue to be positive and use my gift to help people along the way, my blessings will come.”

    MC-Amen: speaking of blessings, what’s new with Chyna? She is your mini-me for real!

    FE-(cracks up)”She was going to school in New York to learn the business aspects  because she was already actively doing music: she’s a producer, a writer, singer and she engineers herself, so she’s already very well-versed in all areas of recording and creating a song.  For now, she’s taking a break until next semester and she may resume her classwork out here. Being was so far away was a lot, so she’s narrowing down what she wants to do from here in California.”

    MC-And what about CJ? Is he still into acting or does he want to do something different?

    FE- “Because of his experience with the two films he was already part of, but we’re focusing on school unless he’s asked to come read for something and then his grades are up to par.”

    MC-Is he driving yet?

    FE-“ He can drive and he’s about to get his car, but he needs to get his grades up a little bit first--- I need some extra wheels to get these kids around!” (laughing)

    MC- How do you keep it all poppin’ with all of those age groups under one roof? You have one more child than me and I need to know what your secret is.

    FE-“ It’s just one day at a time, I ain’t even gon’ lie---it’s seems really overwhelming, but you’ve got to keep going and figure it out. I’ve never been one to let my career be the thing that drives me: don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with women having more time to commit more time to the careers and still manage the household and kids, but I’ve never been one who’s wanted to be away from home for long periods of time anyway, so whatever happens with my career has to fall in place around what makes sense with my schedule at home. The balance comes because I say ‘Look, I can’t do everything because it has to make sense for them and they come first.’”

    MC-Has becoming single made it any harder?

    FE-“ The dating part definitely makes me nervous--- I’ve never really dated as an adult, so I feel kinda weird and I’ve been talking to my friends about it like, ‘oh my God, I don’t want to waste my precious time with somebody and I don’t like em!’ (laughing)”

    MC-I was dating after 30 myself Faith, I feel you on that one: before we wrap it all up, what message do you want to give fans or new artists?

    FE-“Well, they’re certainly a blessing and the reason why we all chose to do this. Hopefully, something about our lives will give fans an example of what to do and in some case, what not to do, so they can learn from our mistakes as well as from our triumphs.  As for getting into music, first and foremost, you’ve really got to know what you’re getting into when there’s a contract involved. Get with a person who can really read them, who’s really knowlegadeble in entertainment law and can break it down for you in layman’s terms because you have to understand every aspect of what is in your contract. That’s a very important thing that I’ve learned.”

    By Melody Charles

     
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