Another reality show is coming your way and one of the best reasons to watch is to catch up with Faith Evans. The 39-year-old divorced mother of four is one of the music industry’s underrated talents and one of its sweetest personalities as well. Evans and co-star Nicci Gilbert are co-executive producers of “R&B Divas,” an eight episode series chronicling the making of a Whitney Houston tribute CD with castmates Syleena Johnson, Monifah Carter and Keke Wyatt. Despite being embroiled in reality TV worthy life and relationship drama well before reality TV’s heyday, Faith is a survivor. The widow of The Notorious B.I.G. has moved to Los Angeles where she’s raising her children as a single mother, including 15-year-old C.J, their son, her two sons with ex-husband Todd Russaw and her 19-year-old daughter, Chyna, from a previous relationship. While Evans says you’ll see little of her personal life on the show, her castmates opened up a lot more. Monifah reveals that she is in a lesbian relationship, and Wyatt even has her sixth child in front of the cameras. Here’s Faith on life, love, music and her reality today.
Blackamericaweb.com: You are the best known out of the women on this show. What made you want to do reality TV with these ladies?
Faith Evans: I had a couple of people that were interested in doing shows with me but I didn’t feel like I was ready for reality TV. I didn’t think I was ready to give people what they expected from reality shows. I wasn’t in that place to where I wanted to open up my home and my personal life. So I waited it out. Nicci came to me with the idea of doing a tour with these ladies and some others. I had an idea to do an album with some R&B singers but had no idea when or how to pull it off. Ironically, all the ladies were at Kelly Price’s pre-Grammy party, which I was one of the hosts of, where Whitney did her last performance. After losing Whitney a few days later, it was a revelation that maybe I should do this album. Maybe I should do a TV show. The show chronicles us making this charity album and the proceeds will go to The Whitney Houston Academy of Performing Arts in New Jersey.
Your personal life has been in the press before, to say the least. How much of it will we see on “R&B Divas?”
That’s not what you’re going to get from me. That’s not what I’m going to do. Whatever the other ladies were willing to share about their lives, you’ll see that, but for me it was to put together this charity album and that’s about it. The closest to my family that is on the show was when we did an episode in New York and we spent some time at my mom’s house in New Jersey. At a birthday barbeque you’ll see C.J. and Mrs. Wallace [Biggie’s mother] because he was there spending the summer with her.
If we’re not going to see it on the show, what is going on in your life these days?
My kids are healthy, they’re OK, they’re all in school. I’m embarking on a lot of new adventures career wise, finishing up this “R&B Divas” project which is going to be epic, finishing up my next studio project, working on my next book and my next TV project and reading some movie scripts. I also have a line of hair products which you’ll see on the show as well. I definitely have my hands in a few different pots.
It seems like it’s really a struggle these days for female R&B artists who can really sing.
I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s more difficult being a female. I just think it’s different the way our music is received. Times have changed. I don’t feel like it’s a bad thing; you just really gotta figure out how to navigate it. I’ve continued to work. I’ve put out a record independently and it debuted at #1 on the independent charts so that’s not a bad thing. (Laughs). I prefer to own my stuff. Having grown and still being able to be here and be relevant but now having control of myself and only myself, I’m not mad at that. I know I still have a fanbase. I look at people like Frankie Beverly and Maze that haven’t had an album out in 20 years and are able to work every day of the year if they wanted to. It’s about figuring out how to navigate it and make things work for you.
You’re from New Jersey also, so losing Whitney must have been especially difficult for you.
Absolutely. Beside being from New Jersey, she was a friend of mine. We didn’t know each other prior to me becoming an artist but part of what bonded us was that she reached out to me at a very difficult time in my life, when I lost my husband. At the time [we both still lived in New Jersey] so we spent a lot of time at each other’s house. Our conversations were very rarely about the music industry. We were both Jersey girls who came from there and made it and who believed in God. That was really a strong thing that we had in common. It definitely hit me hard and still does to this day.
When are you putting out the next Faith album?
This “R&B Divas” album is a preface to my next project, because I have the first singles on this project. This is an extension of the music that my fans expect from me. I don’t have a release date yet because I’m really excited about this “R&B Divas” project, just to see how far we can go touching people with R&B music. The theme song “Lovin’ Me” is available on iTunes now and my first single “Tears of Joy” is available today.
Did you have a good time doing the show? Did it turn out to be what you expected it to be?
I wouldn’t be a part of any reality project without being able to have any creative input so being a co-executive producer was important. I wasn’t really worried about it because I’m not going to present a crazy image of myself anyway. That’s not who I am. It was cool being able to get to know the ladies even more during this process. The only down side for me was being away from my home and my family. I’m really proud because the show is in the spirit of what me and Nicci wanted it to be. We were able to see a few episodes and we were watching it like we weren’t a part of it. We laughed, we cried, and it was just really good. So I’m excited to see people’s reactions to the show.