If you remember Prince’s 3121 era, you likely remember Tamar Davis, who collaborated with Prince on his 2006 album and ultimately recorded one of her own, Milk and Honey. Tamar wrote and sang the Grammy-nominated song “Beautiful Loved and Blessed” on 3121 and toured with Prince to support the project. Prince then toured with her as her guitar player to support Milk and Honey but the album was never released.
Though Davis was one of a long line of Prince protégés, he wasn’t her only brush with greatness. The Houston native was an original member of Girls Tyme, the group that would become Destiny’s Child and propel its lead singer, Beyoncè Knowles, a woman you may have heard of, to superstar status.
Tamar first recorded at Paisley Park when she was a teenager lucky enough to have a cousin pass her demo along to Morris Hayes, Prince’s longtime keyboardist. But she never actually met Prince until she accepted an invite to one of his legendary house parties years later.
Tamar toured with Tamia as a background singer, and in 2016, she competed on The Voice as a member of Christina Aguilera’s team, making it to the top 24 until she was eliminated. In recent years, Davis has also appeared in several Tyler Perry plays and on Broadway in Motown: The Musical.
Now 39, she’s an indie artist recording under her full name, Ashley Tamar Davis, and has a new book 100 Things To Know As An Independent Music Artist that she hopes will help others who take the independent route.
We talked to Tamar recently about her career, her relationship with Prince, why she left Girls Tyme and what she misses most about the iconic artist.
ON HER EXPERIENCE IN GIRLS TYME:
[Tamar was in the group between 10 and 12 years old, when Girls Tyme had six members, including Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and LeTavia Roberson]. We had slumber parties and fun times but at the same time they really pushed us towards excellence. You wouldn’t meet a lot of young girls who were triple threats – they really brought that out in us. That was my first time going to a salon, fist going to Tina’s salon, first time getting on a plane. It wasn’t just work, work, work. We laughed a lot. It was definitely a family unit from the girl’s perspective. [I have] not one bad memory. I’m very proud of Kelly, LeToya and Beyoncè. We were childhood friends and I wouldn’t want anyone to think any different. I don’t want the Beyhive coming after me! [Laughs]
ON LEAVING GIRLS TYME:
I didn’t put too much on it. I was too young. You want your friends to become famous but when it happens, you’re not really thinking about it. My parents took me out [of the group] for various reasons because of things going on behind the scenes. It’s probably minor compared to what LeToya and LeTavia had to go through, but it was all my parent’s decision. I didn’t know exactly why my mom took me out until a few years ago. It was a healing process for our relationship. [Davis will ultimately share that full story, with her parents’ input, when she releases a memoir next year.]
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ON MEETING PRINCE:
Prince had a version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” – it was one of his favorite songs and I recorded it with his engineer. But I did not meet him. Looking back and knowing him so well, he’s mysterious guy. He probably was there somewhere. I ended up going to Prince’s house for a party he had. As I’m leaving the house, he was at the door thanking guests for coming. I approached him because he seemed cordial and told him I recorded “Over The Rainbow” at his studio years ago.
And he remembered me to the point that he asked me about my mom. [she chokes up]. I sang for him on the spot and he told me I was welcome to come back anytime to record. I was like ‘I’m not knocking on your door to record’ and about a month later, I got a call [to work with his band members.] We were rehearsing for about two weeks and then the door opens and in walks Prince. And that was the start of history.