Tamia is a rare voice in R&B.
Debuting at the tail end of the ’90s, the Canadian singer-songwriter persevered as R&B became shaped by rap’s rising dominance, making it tougher for veteran genre purists to be seen and heard.
“I remember when R&B singers sang the song and the rappers did a hook. Now singers are just doing the hooks. And, actually, some rappers are doing the songs and the hooks,” the 43-year-old said with a laugh.
Twenty years into her career, Tamia Hill is deep into a second act that sees her enjoying success on her own terms.
She’s gearing up for a fall tour in support of her new album, “Passion Like Fire” – it’s out Friday via her Plus 1 imprint and eOne Music – and she’s got one of the hottest songs on the adult R&B charts right now with “Leave It Smokin’,” a seductive neo-soul throwback that’s becoming her most successful single since her breakout 2001 stunner, “Stranger in My House.”
Singing since she was 6, the Windsor, Ontario, native arrived under the guidance of Quincy Jones and had earned three Grammy nominations before she released her self-titled debut in 1998.
Despite a current R&B landscape that favors experimentation and hip-hop edge, Hill has remained one of the few steadfast talents who rebukes trend-chasing, and her new album sees the singer playing directly to her strengths.
The follow-up to 2015’s “Love Life” (her highest charting album to date, it hit No.1 on the Billboard R&B chart), “Passion Like Fire” is more of the sultry, grown-up R&B-soul Hill has delivered effortlessly for two decades now.
Ahead of the album’s release and supporting tour that will take her across the U.S., the performer discussed longevity, the evolving state of R&B and the 20th anniversary of her debut.
For example, I recorded “Stranger in My House” and “Me” at the same time. Both songs I really loved. But “Stranger” was this big record, so I decided to only put it on the “A Nu Day” album (2000) and I saved “Me” because I felt like it was too much of a good thing. I kept it and used it later (on 2006’s “Between Friends”).
We put out “Leave It Smokin’” as the single, then we did a soft release of “Deeper” and put out “Today I Do” for my wedding anniversary )Hill has been married to former NBA player Grant Hill for nearly 20 years). Before, you would never do that, you would never release things unless they were for sure singles. There was no taste test like, “Here, take a listen.” But we consume music completely different now.
)2018 Los Angeles Times
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