Faith Evans

Faith Evans

For the most part, Faith Evans lets her singing voice do the talking for her.

We’ve felt pain and glory in her sultry, honey-coated soprano vocals, and that’s a comfortable place for Evans.

We get it. She’s been through a lot. And she’s had to endure much of it in a very public forum – and much of it came with our introduction to Evans in the first place. There was a high profile marriage to Notorious B.I.G., infidelity on his part in the marriage, fighting, fussing, an East coast-West coast hip-hop beef that plucked her plumb in the middle, and the murder of her husband. And all of this was wrapped around her burgeoning music career.

Whew.

But Evans is finally giving us a glimpse into what her life is like off the stage. Later this month, she’ll co-star in a TV One reality series, R&B Divas, where she’s shooting alongside Nicci Gilbert, Syleena Johnson, Monifah Carter, and Keke Wyatt. (The show premieres August 20th at 10 p.m. and will air on Mondays.) But there won’t be any wine bottle throwing on this show.

Instead, it’ll capture the real-life friends and music makers coming together to produce a charity album inspired by Whitney Houston, a close friend of Evans. Yes, they’ll delve into their personal lives – rather hard not to. It’ll show them becoming businesswomen beyond the music business, challenges with sexuality, issues with domestic violence, career-busting decisions and financial woes.

EBONY.com talks with Evans about Houston, her new album and why she dropped out of starring as original Supreme, Florence Ballard.

EBONY: You’ve always been very private. Why’d you sign up to do this?

Faith Evans: I actually had a few different opportunities and shot a few pilots for reality projects, and I definitely was reluctant to do them, but this ended up being a great vehicle for me. I don’t have to shoulder it because I’m very private and very guarded, but this show actually chronicles me getting ready to put together a charity album with all female R&B singers. Nicci Gilbert, who’s my best friend and co-EP on the project, she had already kind of assembled these ladies with the thought of coming to me and seeing if I was interested in going on tour and filming it and making it a documentary. And I said, ‘Maybe this would be a good way to do this whole TV thing that people want me to do ….’ I really wasn’t willing to open up my home and things of that nature and my kids.. And also, I get to give back, because the album is going to benefit the Whitney Houston Academy in New Jersey, and to also encourage the other ladies to really … share their stories, because they have very interesting stories of survival that will inspire people through their career ups and downs, through their life challenges.

EBONY: Was it scary having the cameras turned on you?

FE: No, not at all. I’m used to being in front of a camera. I’m the same me all the time, whether the camera’s there or not. I’m still the same guarded person. I’m very engaging and funny when you get to know me. I’m very laid back, I don’t always react to everything, and I think about stuff and I try… to be a little more conscientious. I think I’m sort of the voice of reason in my group of ladies.

EBONY: I know that Whitney Houston was a friend and collaborator of yours. Tell me why you wanted to put this album together and what we’re going to hear on it.

FE: I had been toying with the idea of doing a project with all female singers for a few years. And I had actually even mentioned it to Whitney, and asked her whenever I’m able to do it, would you be a part of it? And she said, ‘Of course!’ I happened to be co-hosting the Grammy event that last night Whitney got on stage. It was my last chance to see her and talk to her and I loved her so much. And after the night … I mean … all of us ladies having been there that night was just very coincidental because they all performed, I hosted and…we didn’t know that we weren’t going to see Whitney again. So I had a revelation like, ‘Go ahead and do this album.’ And I really wanted to do something to honor her, but at the same time, it’s not a Whitney Houston album. It’s not a tribute record, there’s no Whitney Houston song, it’s just giving back in her honor, and giving back to the arts.

EBONY: All the ladies that were on the reality show happened to be there that last night she performed? There’s something kind of ethereal about that, isn’t there?

FE: Definitely. Which