While most 18-year-old girls are spending Valentine’s Day getting dolled up with their friends for dates, or getting dolled up to look for dates, Tiffany Evans spent the holiday working. More specifically, she spent the day doing press for her forthcoming sophomore album, Perfect Imperfection.
But Tiffany didn’t complain. She’s used to making sacrifices. Being away from her boo on the romantic holiday is small potatoes compared to the near-homelessness, bullying, and abuse she endured before becoming known as the little girl with the huge voice on the revamped version of Star Search eight years ago. It’s the strength she gained from her hard times, the compassion she learned to have for others, and that whoa-baby-amazing voice that powers her latest single, “I’ll Be There.”
Neon Limelight caught up with Tiffany by phone on V-Day and made her the latest victim of our 12 random questions. In the Q&A, Tiff chats about her new album, her love life, her struggles, and cleared up those infamous comments she made (and some she didn’t make) towards pop goddess Rihanna.
1. It’s kind of rare for an artist to lead a new album with a ballad, and you did that. What made you decide “I’ll Be There” was the perfect lead-off single?
Well, you know what, when I thought of “I’ll Be There,” it wasn’t that I was thinking of it as a single, you know what I mean? I just thought it would be a good idea to put out that type of record for what’s going on right now, you know, with all the bullying and just a lot of people going through a lot of stuff. I just knew a lot of people needed to hear a record like that. So when I thought of it, I really wasn’t thinking of it as the first single. I just wanted to put it out there because it’s a very encouraging record, and with everything that’s going on right now, I know someone needs to hear this. It was kind of just my way of giving inspiration for the time, and it’s been working. I think we made a great choice to do that, but I definitely can’t wait to put out the fun music. It’s going to be amazing. It’s gonna be so dope.
2. Who in your life would you say is the one person you’ll always be there for?
Oooooh. [laughs] Well, I have someone very, very special in my life…and I won’t say any names [laughs], but… I don’t know how to say this without getting too…sounding like a girlfriend! [laughs] But I will always be there for that person because they’ve always been there for me and has always helped me out. Any time that I needed them, whether it’d be at 3 o’clock in the morning, I was always able to call that person and they’d just listen to whatever I’d have to say and just let me vent. Even if it kinda came off harsh and I took it out on them, they allowed me to do that. That special person is someone I’ll always be there for. [laughs]
3. Aww. Awesome! That was the best way to segue into my next question ever! It’s Valentine’s Day. How are you spending it?
I am — and it’s so sad — I am spending it alone!
I know! It’s just I’m in a different place and, you know, he’s in a different place. He’s working and doing some stuff, so he couldn’t be with me today. So… But my fans are my Valentines! I’m gonna spend it with them on Twitter. [laughs]
Awww! Well, that’s a good consolation prize.
Yeah! I just know where my heart is at and that just makes it even better. I don’t care. I can still feel that person and that person’s spirit is with me, so I’m good! I’m good and happy!
4. Thinking back, what was the best Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever gotten?
I got…actually, it was really, really weird. I got embarrassed for Valentine’s Day but it turned out really, really good! I was really mad and I was going off of…just drama and stuff, and I was really mean to this person. I was just, ‘I don’t wanna see you again’ and dadadadada. Then the next minute he shows up at my door with flowers and a teddy bear and this dress on a hanger and he’s like, ‘OK, are you gonna go out with me tonight?’ [laughs] And I’m like I feel so bad because…but we talked it over and I was like ‘I don’t know why I jumped to conclusions. I feel so bad right now because you showed up to my house with this dress, teddy bear, flowers, candy. I’m out on this nice date and I just gave you hell! I’m really sorry!’ [laughs] But that was one of the best.
Are you really complicated in a relationship or are you easy-going…because you sound very complicated!
[Laughs] You know what! I think it was just that one…I was having a bad day!! [laughs] But I’m not complicated at all. I’m very open-minded. I always want to know what’s on that significant other’s mind. I wanna be able to talk to that person and see how they feel. I’m not one of those girls who, you know, come down heavy on their dude. I’m not like that. I don’t know. I guess I have a bad day once in a while and come down really, really hard, but I’m not like that every day. I think that’s a good thing. [laughs]
Your goods outweigh your bads.
Yes! Of course, of course, girl. [laughs]
5. People always talk about the best piece of advice they’ve been given, but what’s the worst piece of advice someone’s ever given to you?
Hmmm. Let’s see. There’s so many of them…
I know! But I learn from them. The worst piece of advice to me was — and I don’t wanna say who this person is to me — but they told me whoever does something bad to you, make sure you get them back two times. And I’m like, ‘Nooooooooooooo! That’s not how you do it!!!” And I never went back to that person for advice again. [laughs] Because I know if I tell this person what it is, they’re gonna be like, ‘Go and slash someone’s tires.” But, yeah. That was one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten. I was…I was very shocked.
You’ll be in a cycle of revenge forever by taking that advice!
I know! Like, come on. I don’t do that. It’s just better to leave stuff alone. I don’t know if it works for them or not. It probably does or just makes them feel good for the moment. But I don’t think it would make me feel good at all.
6. You did quite well for yourself on Star Search way back in the day. If you were on American Idol today, how well do you think you’d do on there?
If I was on American Idol today at my age now, I think I would do pretty well. I think I would do pretty, pretty well. There’s a lot of talented people out there, but I think from Star Search and the growth that I’ve had from that time until now, I think I would fair well. I would do a good job…hopefully! [laughs] I think I’m much better now than I was before. I’d give myself a shot.
Top 3, top 2, winner? Which one?
Yeah, top 2. I’mma stay modest. [laughs] I’d give myself a shot. I would at least try and it would be a nice experience. Like I said, I’ve really grown from the time I did Star Search up until now.
7. Build your ultimate female group, which you are a member of. What other female singers would be in your supergroup?
I would say Lady Gaga, Janet, and Beyoncé! I think that’s dope because they all can dance and entertain and put on a great show. I would love to be in a group like that. I mean, they’re awesome. They’re awesome. That would be my ultimate girl group.
8. Have you chosen the second single and will it be more up-tempo?
Um, OK, so! The second single is going to be very, I have to say, it’s going to be very… I want people to be entertained. That is my goal. If you’re watching my video or seeing me perform the song live, [I want you to be] entertained. So this round is going to be very, very fun. I can’t tell you the name or anything like that. It’s top secret. But it’s coming very, very soon. Very soon, actually, and it’s just going to be awesome. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it and just start dancing! I just feel like I need to put on these shoes! I haven’t danced in a long time and I’m just ready to go ‘head and do what I gotta do! I’m ready to dance! And I know everyone else is ready to see me dance, considering that’s how I started off. So, yeah. It’s going to be really awesome. I’m excited.
9. This a little bit darker than the other questions, but you talk about you past with abuse and depression in Saving Our Daughters, and I just want to know will you be incorporating those topics in the album, does it have any place on there, or are you just trying to keep it light?
Being that I do talk about those specific subjects in that book, I will say that they come from a true place, but I don’t want to bring anyone down. Like, I don’t want my whole album to just be about that, you know what I mean? ‘Cause it’s not. It’s definitely something that I will speak about more when the time is right and when I’m in a place where I feel like I’ve healed enough to talk about it, but [the album] won’t be something that’s super, super heavy, because I don’t want to make myself seem as if I am still a victim. When I’m singing a song about it or talking about it, I want people to be encouraged by it more so than saddened. So, I will speak about it when the time is right. Some subjects on the album will probably come from that, but not too much. It will be light but encouraging at the same time.
Definitely. You’re so young. You definitely don’t have to spill everything onto your first two albums. You have such a long way to go.
Yeah, and I just don’t want to give too much of myself too soon, especially when I’m still in a healing process and still learning things. I think it’s good when artists keep that one thing, you know, keep that one thing to themselves that they can hold on to. You don’t have to give your whole self all away for your music. But just me speaking about it and encouraging girls to speak up about it themselves is enough for me. Hopefully they will be encouraged by it and be lifted.
10. You are very outspoken. Especially on Twitter…
[Laughs] I’m just an outspoken person!
Some of your tweets have gotten you in trouble…
Yes they have, they have.
Do you regret any of your tweets or do you feel you’ve said what you said in that moment and you’re not taking it back?
Well, here’s the thing, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t regret a lot of the things, but I do want to say this: when you say something on Twitter, it’s kind of like a mass text. Say if me and you were talking over the phone or I’m texting you and I send, like, “What the hell,” or something. You might take it like ‘what do you mean ‘what the hell’? Why are you even angry right now?’ And I probably sent it off like I didn’t mean for it to come off that way. I was just saying ‘what the hell’ and I didn’t mean for you to take it wrong but you did. It was a text, and you don’t know if I’m screaming it, or if I’m calm, or anything. Your first instinct is to take offense to it.
I will say this, there’s a lot of things that were taken out of context, and a lot of things about that whole situation…there’s a lot of things that I did not say.
Are we talking about the “Russian Roulette” situation?
Yeah. I spoke about that but that was it. That’s all I said about whatever I said. I just spoke about the song. I have respect for Rihanna. I met her a long time ago. She came to a show that me and Chris Brown were doing when he first came out. I have respect for her. I worked with Ne-Yo [who wrote the lyrics to “Russian Roulette”] on my first album, you know, so it just wasn’t… I don’t know how it got taken out [of context], but there was this thing that I had said that they paired it up with. They took words from it and said that I had called her all these things that I did not call her at all. That had nothing to do with her or the song. But I do regret putting stuff on Twitter so people can, you know. You leave people room to interpret things the way they want to. So, you know…I just wish…I wish I never did that! [laughs] I wish I never left room for that, but, like I said, you live and you learn and people make mistakes. When I see her I want to be able to speak to her and tell her what I said for myself because I think it’s better when you talk to someone face to face and get it from them and not a blog site or someone who can take your words and start turning them all around. So I just want to be able to speak to her personally and tell her if it was anything that offended her, you know, I’m sorry about it. But it’s kinda hard when you read blog sites and this stuff gets around and people can get convinced easily. But, yeah. I’ve learned my lesson. [laughs]
11. If you could choose any male star out right now that you’d love to duet with, who would it be?
Chris Brown, hands down. He’s just really dope. He’s just… he can sing, he can dance, he entertains, and he can act as well. And me having a passion for dancing too, it would be really dope if we could come together and do something really fun. Hopefully that will happen and we can set that up, but I would love to collab with him.
12. What would you say is your most perfect imperfection?
Let’s see. I might have to think about that one because I have so many. [laughs] I have so many. But I think… my trials are my most perfect imperfection. I don’t know if you understand it but, I think…no. I’ll pick something easier.
No! I think that was a really good one. Yeah, they weren’t perfect and definitely not great, but your trials made you who you are.
Exactly! OK! It’s just sometimes I talk to people and I get really deep and they’re like ‘what are you talking about?’ [laughs]
No, I completely understand.
Yeah, my trials would be my most perfect imperfection because they’re tough, but at the same time, I come out of it stronger. I come out of it learning; a beast. So, I would have to say my trials. Trials are there for a reason. It can be good if you take from them well.