“I popped out singing. Seriously. When I was younger, I would say I wanted to be either a singer, teacher or a psychologist. I always knew that’s what I wanted to do. I was fortunate enough that my parents supported it.”
Tiffany Janell, has made her presence known in the City of Brotherly Love. Growing up in a traditional Puerto Rican family, she knew from a young age that singing was her calling. It is more than just her soulful voice that attracts you to her, it is her aura. Her high spirit and old soul makes you want to be around her. When I mentioned that I wanted to interview her for my blog, the text messages began coming in and time slots were being thrown around due to the time difference and our busy schedules. Fortunately, we were able to make it work. I wanted to know more about the woman behind the voice. Thanks to Skype, I was able to talk to her out on the West Coast. After some chit-chat and talking about mutual friends, we started talking about her and becoming a star. Early in the conversation I began to see that she wants to be the next voice of her generation singing to them in English and Spanish.
“My parents found out I could sing when I was 10. We were in the car and Mariah Carey was playing, ‘Always Be My Baby.’ At one point my dad turned the radio down and asked ‘Tiff is that you singing?’ I responded with a yes, and he asked to hear it again. So I did. I sang. My parents then had a moment where they both looked at each other and said ok and then turned the radio back on.”
That was the beginning of her journey. Singing along to old school Mariah Carey and standing out at such young age speaks volumes of her vocal range, which progressed over time thanks to the support of her family. Shy at first, she pursued her passion when her mom enrolled her in A.M.L.A. (American Music Latin Association). She focused on vocal and piano lessons. Like any other rising star, she would perform all the time, especially in her school shows. While most people would brag about their accolades, she recalls them humbly with a glint of excitement.
As she grew up and continued to study her craft, she realized how much she wanted this to be a career and not a hobby. Naturally, her next step was to audition to Philadelphia’s High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA). The school has a list of impressive alumni like Boyz II Men, Black Thought, Questlove of The Roots, and Jazmine Sullivan. This was her chance to be trained by the best of the best. Originally she wanted to audition for the vocal department, however, she was discouraged when someone said that it was mainly for operatic and classically trained singers. Instead, she auditioned for the drama department. Prepared with her monologue and song she was ready to wow the judges. Vividly, she remembers the judges (whom she refers to as teachers now) just staring at her after she sang.
“One of them said that I had a lot of soul and asked why I had not auditioned for the vocal department. So I told them about how others told me that I would not be good enough for the vocal department.” Needless to say, Tiffany was accepted and became a member of an impressive list of alumni. While at CAPA she majored in theater, minored in dance, and sang in all of their showcases.
As our Skype session continued the conversation about culture, especially music came up. It flowed naturally. We discovered that we each want to empower other Latinas and promote our culture in a positive light.
“That is my motto. That’s why I hash-tagged #LatinassupportingLatinas. I think it is so important to support each other. We are such beautiful people. While the media may type cast us with big hoop earrings and an attitude, they have to accept that we are just feisty. We are much more than that. We are fabulous and feisty! And I love to represent my culture.”
Admittedly, we had to stop ourselves from going on about our culture because we could go on for hours. I needed to find out what is next for her? What type of artist does she want to be?
“Because of my voice, the comparisons are there. I get compared to Lauren Hill and Faith Evans. The rebel in me, did not like being boxed in. I was trained with Jazz music. I grew up singing old school Salsa, Bolero, Pop and R&B. Yet, I hated being placed in a box. But, I love R&B it is definitely my comfort zone.”
It was easier for her to see herself placed into a genre as an American singer. Once I asked about singing in Spanish, things got real! Her dad wants Bachata she wants Salsa and so on. The family ties are strong. Deeply rooted, all this Philadelphia native wants is to make her family proud.
So, when I asked her what is her motivation is to continue pursuing her dream without hesitation she answered her family and friends. She proceeded to show me a heart shaped collage of the people in her life along with the following quote:
Along with prayer and speaking things into existence, she relies on her best friend/ roommate Erica for strength from time to time. “I am not letting anyone break me. My mother taught me better. I am strong. I have always known who I was and what I wanted.” Living away from her family is tough, but she is not taking that time for granted.
“ I am out here to make things happen. I am not going to let this time away from my family be wasted when I could be with them making memories.”
Nevertheless, her friends back home have been inspiring her since the 6th grade like Khalia (a fellow musician) whom Tiffany refers to her as her muse. Then there is Tyline, whom she says is the smartest person she knows. They both have impacted her life in such a positive way, especially musically. It has not always been a smooth ride for this soulful singer, but she realizes that there is no sense in holding on to negativity. Good things happen once you release all of the negative energy from your life. For Ms. Tiffany Janell plenty of wonderful things are heading her way. It is only a matter of time when her name will be in light
We could not finish the interview without a quick speed round!
1. Who would you collaborate with Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey?
Old School Mariah!
2. Early 2000s or 90s?
3. R&B or Soul?
Today, I feel R&B.
4. Dream collaboration in five year time?
5. Dream record label to sign to?
I don’t know. I would have to more research. That is a really good question.
6. Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt?
7. Philly Cheesesteak or Deep-dish Pizza?
I love Pizza!
8. Cats or Dogs?
9. Would you want to be considered a triple threat yes or no? Yes.
10. Who would play you in a movie? That is a good question. Who do you think would play me?
Answers: America Ferreira in terms of vocal. Sassiness and Self-confidence of Demi Lovato.
America wins the round.
11. Calvin Harris or Zedd?
12. Favorite British singer?
13. Dream place to live?
14. Rapper to collaborate with: Wale, J. Cole and Common (he’s bae).
15. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Looking back on this time and thinking about the time when I thought it may not happen and that I let negativity take over. I want to look back reminisce over all of the lessons I learned along the way.
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