Without a doubt, this has been the opportunity of a lifetime. On a humble, our love for Faith Evans and her musical legacy brought along the idea of commemorating her debut album, FAITH. As many of you know, this classic LP that changed the landscape of R&B music was released in 1995. The 20-year anniversary was August 29, 2015, so to commemorate this special album, we put together a special issue with #NothingButFaith! That's right, there's now an issue of Urban Grandstand Digital devoted to everything there is about Faith Evans' debut! In that issue, we had the amazing opportunities of catching up with some of the masterminds that worked together in putting this album together. We have exclusives with Prince Charles Alexander, Herb Middleton, and in the final hour, we caught up with Q. Parker from the R&B group 112. In the issue, we also talk about the singles that were released, as well as the remixes that resulted, and how the entire recording process went along.
Now, We're thrilled to present to you a super-exclusive interview with the lady of the hour! Yes, we have an exclusive with Faith Evans herself, and she gives us the rundown on the album, the process of putting it together, BIG's influence throughout the process, and so much more. You definitely don't want to miss this!
Urban Grandstand Digital: Coming from someone who has literally followed every bit of your music since day one, I can't begin to thank you enough for your willingness in being involved with this feature. This album came at a pivotal moment in Urban Music, but notably R&B because you were the leading lady of Bad Boy. You not only laid an enormous foundation for the label, but you brought a certain level of finesse and sophistication to the industry, and you put together an album that played on every emotion one could ever think. Ultimately, this was the jumpstart of a beautiful career for you. What were your thoughts going into this album? What were your expectations and your vision?
Faith Renee Evans: I didn’t really have many expectations going into my debut album. I just really wanted to make good music, and hoped that people liked it. I was a new artist, and although I had been writing, and recording for a while, this was my debut, and I didn’t know that people would connect to my music the way that they did. But God always has a plan, even when we don’t see the outcome, just yet.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What part, if any, did you play in the overall direction, picking samples, and so forth? Obviously, Isaac Hayes' Walk on By was sampled for No Other Love, Patrice Rushen's Remind Me for Fallin’ In Love, and Tyrone Davis' In the Mood for No Other Love. Who chose those?
Faith Renee Evans: I had the opportunity to work with great producers on the album. Most of the tracks were already done, and I just wrote to them. Of course, we would go through beats, and I’d let them know which joints I was feeling. That’s usually how my creative process begins with a song. I find the music that moves me, and I allow it to take me in.
Urban Grandstand Digital: On the flip side, artists love this album as much as everyone else. You have artists like Lecrae, who sample You Are My Joy (Interlude) for his 2012 track Inspiration, You Used to Love Me was sampled by a number of artists, and Reasons was sampled by Camp Lo maybe 5 or 6 years ago. I think it speaks to the timeless quality in your music but what do you attribute that to, and how does that make you feel?
Faith Renee Evans: I feel blessed, and honored that artists still gravitate and listen to music, let alone sample it. I don’t think that any us, in 90’s R&B, knew what kind of impact our music would have on the genre or future generations. At that time, we were writing our lives. We were creating the soundtrack to urban love. In retrospect, I’d have to attribute that to being open, genuine, and vulnerable in composing the music. People connect with things that they can relate to. But once again, I had no idea that God would allow them to connect generations later. I’m blessed.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Was it your idea or desire to cover Rose Royce's Love Don't Live Here Anymore?
Faith Renee Evans: It wasn’t my idea, but I’m glad we did the record. Initially, there was a solo version of me doing the joint, but Puff thought it’d be great for Mary to collab as well. I remember him saying that we HAD to sing this song with the fire and passion that the lyrics displayed … lol ….and we had to do a little homework to get that done!! LOL
Urban Grandstand Digital: Many times, when women craft album such as this, which centers around love and emotions, it connects more with women, yet, this album touched the lives of so many men. Your album stands out for me personally for two reasons. First, in a moment where I felt I was reconnecting with my sister on a drive from Cleveland to Richmond, Virginia, we played this album on repeat the entire way. Secondly, the following summer I worked at an amusement park for the summer, and in the midst of loneliness, your album was THEE ALBUM for me that summer. Even listening now, which i do daily, it brings back memories of those times. How often do you get that from male fans?
Faith Renee Evans: You know, honestly, a lot of my male fans have reached out and shared that they connected with my first album as well. Thank you so much. I’m not sure that music has a gender, or that stories about love, only connect with a specific type of person. Woman aren’t the only ones experiencing these feelings, and men have hearts too. So, I’m glad that both men and women can see the music for what it is.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Something I've said for years I would ask you is about the physical makeup of many of your songs. On this album, the songs Ain't Nobody, Come Over, Soon As I Get Home, All This Love, Give It To Me, You Don't Understand, and Reasons all have one particular line or mini-verse that seemingly loops. So for instance, on All This Love it's "all this love you're giving me, I wanna give, just let me give it back to you".....or on You Don't Understand its "baby I love, and I want you to know, if you love me baby, just let your feelings show". I can be pretty perceptive, perhaps over-perceptive at times, but is that a conscious characteristic in a lot your songs?
Faith Renee Evans: Thanks for being sooooo perceptive … lol. Without going all the way into a songwriters’ lecture … lol, I’d have to say that this is very common in music, black music specifically. That portion of the song is what is called a ‘vamp.’ It literally means to ‘vamp’ or ‘repeat’ or ‘hold there’…. You’ll find in most gospel songs, the latter half is a vamp. I’m a church girl. It’s where I started, both singing and writing. I probably just continued to develop form based on my beginnings.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What do you recall most about the time period in your life with putting this together? How did the things going on in your life help with production and the overall crafting of this classic?
Faith Renee Evans: There were so many things happening at that time. I was a mother, I was in love, I was working on my debut album. My life had changed so quickly, its hard to think of just one thing. I can definitely say that most of the album was done rather quickly, compared to the time that I now spend working on a project. I’m sure that has to do with the pace in which my career and life were moving at that time.
Urban Grandstand Digital: For You Don't Understand, it was said that this song was inspired mostly by your marriage to The Notorious B.I.G. What other songs on the album were also inspired by your relationship?
Faith Renee Evans: The entire album was a soundtrack to our love life. BIG was the inspiration behind almost the entire album. In one way or another, these songs detailed the emotion of the things that I was experiencing being in love with and married to him.
Urban Grandstand Digital: How much of a part did he play, if any, in you putting this together, and your mind state?
Faith Renee Evans: He was busy working and promoting his album at the time, so it wasn’t like he was in the studio with me everyday. But he definitely would give his feedback on records he liked, and I’d do the same. Ultimately, if he had not been in my life, the world would have heard an entirely different offering for my debut.
Urban Grandstand Digital: DaRon from 112, he was on Thank You Lord (Interlude)?
Faith Renee Evans: I had been friends, as well as, label mates with 112, and we all came from the church. The first time I heard them sing, they were surrounding a piano, singing to a gospel record. When “Thank You Lord’ was being created, it was only natural that DaRon and the guys join me.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What are you most proud of with this album, 20 years later?
Faith Renee Evans: I’m not necessarily ‘proud’ of anything in particular. I am grateful to God, and my fans, for still allowing my music to reach hearts and EARS!!
Urban Grandstand Digital: You did several remixes for Faith. Most notable were those for Ain't Nobody with Queen Latifah, and Soon As I Get Home with Aaron Hall. Looking back, What was it like for you to work with both of them, who are both legends in their own right, but you doing this so early in your career?
Faith Renee Evans: It was great working with Queen and Aaron on the remixes. This was a time when collaborations on remixes was very common. But, I had no idea that I’d be pitted with these two amazing artists for my remixes!! I was excited then, and still get excited when I’m listening to the joints today.
Urban Grandstand Digital: What would you change about the process, if anything?
Faith Renee Evans: I don’t think, given the chance, that I’d change the process. I’d be afraid that it wouldn’t be the same product. Everything happened the way that it should have, when working on this album. The sessions, the producers, the love, the passion, all came together in their rightful places, and something very special to me, and then the world, was created.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Imagine you're back in 1995, and you're tasked with picking 4 songs from the album to put together an short EP to obviously showcase yourself. What 4 songs would you pick, and why?
Faith Renee Evans: Good one … lol. I’d have to say, ‘Come Over,’ ‘Used to Love Me,’ ‘Reasons,’ and ‘Give it to Me.’ From the time I began working on those records, I felt like a piece of me was becoming immortal … lol…if not for anyone else, then for me!!! lol
Urban Grandstand Digital: You have one of the best albums to ever be released in R&B during our generation, and as a part of the R&B landscape of the nineties. Do you view yourself as a legend?
Faith Renee Evans: I’m not that kind of girl!!! LOL. I consider myself talented, gifted, and blessed. But not a LEGEND!!! Those are people like Chaka khan, Gladys, Patti, Karen Clark!!! I’ve gotten more seasoned over the years, but I’m still growing and learning new things about my gift EVERYDAY!!! So yeah, maybe ONE DAY I’ll be there, but not yet!!!
Urban Grandstand Digital: I can't thank you enough for your involvement. It's artists like you who made me happy that I follow my passion as a journalist and am publishing this magazine. I've followed your career, and love every thing you've brought to this industry. Because of you, kids, teens, and adolescents see positivity in music and know they can follow their hearts in career and do what they love. I have loved this album since its release, Thank you for being you. And thank you for this album!!! Are there any final comments on your end?
Faith Renee Evans: I’ll be releasing a surprise for the fans to celebrate the debut!! Be on the lookout for #Faith20