The Recording Academy Memphis Chapter played host for GRAMMYs On The Road At The 2012 Essence Music Festival held July 5–8 in New Orleans. The Chapter conducted exclusive backstage interviews with artists performing at the festival, including GRAMMY-nominated R&B singer/songwriter Tamia and pop/R&B singer/songwriter Luke James.
Tamia discussed performing at the Essence Music Festival, the New Orleans community and her musical influences, among other topics.
"Anytime you can get a whole bunch of artists in one place at one time over a weekend … [its] an amazing time," said Tamia. "Not only for artists, but for fans as well, and for the fan in the artist."
Hailing from Canada, Tamia grew up listening to artists such as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, and Gladys Knight, among others. In 1996 Tamia earned her first three GRAMMY nominations for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for "Missing You" featuring Brandy, Khan and Knight; Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "You Put A Move On My Heart"; and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Slow Jams," the latter two of which were featured on Quincy Jones' 1994 album Q's Jook Joint. She released her self-titled debut album in 1998, which featured the Top 40 hits "So Into You" and "Imagination." In 1999 Tamia earned her fourth GRAMMY nomination for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Spend My Life With You" featuring Eric Benét. A Nu Day was released in 2000 and cracked the Top 50 on the Billboard 200. Tamia released More in 2004, followed by 2006's Between Friends. "Beautiful Surprise," the title track from her forthcoming album, was released in June.
James discussed what makes the Essence Music Festival unique, recording his latest single "I Want You," and music education, among other topics.
"One of my recent a-ha moments was when I created my single, 'I Want You,'" said James. "When I finished it and heard it, it was a definite moment like, 'Wow, this is going to be great. … This is me. I've finally found what I've been looking for.'"
A New Orleans native, James grew up listening to artists such wide-ranging artists as Alabama, Marvin Gaye and Willie Nelson, among others. In high school, he joined a local trio that performed as the opening act for artists such as Brian McKnight. After graduating from high school, James moved to Los Angeles and met Tyrese, for whom he began singing background vocals. James subsequently met producer Danja and landed a deal with Island Def Jam imprint Mercury Records. He collaborated on songs for artists such as Justin Bieber, Brandy, Chris Brown, Keri Hilson, and Britney Spears, among others. In January James released "I Want You," the lead single from his forthcoming album Made To Love.