Texas native Tevin Campbell burst onto the music scene in 1989 with his innocent, appealing vocal performance of the hopeful "Tomorrow" from Quincy Jones' Grammy Award-winning album Back on the Block. Then only 13, Campbell became a young heartthrob and a talent to watch. He teamed with another musical giant the next year, singing "Round and Round" on the soundtrack of Prince's Graffiti Bridge movie, landing his second top five song on the Soul charts.
Campbell's much-awaited debut album, T.E.V.I.N., was released in 1991 and was a smash, boasting two number one Soul hits, "Tell Me What You Want Me to Do" and "Alone With You" and landing in the Top 10 on the soul album charts. Campbell appeared poised for real stardom and he delivered on the next album, 1993's Babyface-produced I'm Ready. By then his youthful voice had changed, but he had developed into a solid interpreter, and both the fine title cut and "Can We Talk" topped the Soul charts and made the Pop top 10.
After I'm Ready Campbell was at the top of the musical world, but that world changed between 1993 and 1996 and his next album, Back to the World, was unsuccessful, the excellent title cut failing to score with Soul or Pop audiences. Unfortunately, by the time of Campbell's self-titled 1999 album he was an afterthought - at age 21. The disc didn't do well, and, combined with some unfortunate legal troubles, sadly spelled the end of his major recording years. After a half decade away from the musical scene, in 2005 Campbell was cast in the stage musical Hairspray, a role he maintained for six years. Since then he has recorded sporadically, but has continued to perform both in concert and in stageplays - and still sounds great.
While the spotlight on Campbell as a recording artist came to an unfortunately abrupt and early end, his career is notable for the consistent high quality of his singles during the period 1991-96, which are successfully captured on The Best of Tevin Campbell, a solid compilation worth picking up. And he remains an extremely talented artist for whom the soul music world continues to root.
By Chris Rizik