Friday, April 8, 2011

Tiffany Goes Country on ‘Rose Tattoo' By Paul E. Pratt Published: April 7, 2011

Former ‘80s Teen Pop Icon Performs April 8 at The Rrazz Room

“I love all types of music, but as a vocalist, I think I’ve always seen myself back in country music,” admits Tiffany.

The statement might leave many fans scratching their heads, since most have never known the one-time teen pop sensation to be “country.” They do recall her ‘80s hey-day, however, when Tiffany’s self-titled debut topped Billboard charts and spawned back-to-back #1 singles “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Could’ve Been.”

Before hitting the big-time as a bubblegum confection, though, a young Tiffany was discovered singing at a Chino, CA, honky-tonk. At only 10-years-old, she landed in Nashville for the first time, looking for a record deal.

“I wanted to be Stevie Nicks gone country, I think,” she shares during a recent telephone interview promoting her long-awaited, full-scale country music project Rose Tattoo. “But people said I was too young.”

Though the pre-teen won raves performing alongside country icons Jerry Lee Lewis and George Jones, covering songs like country-pop hits “Delta Dawn” and Juice Newton’s “Queen of Hearts,” the music industry had other ideas. Rather than the country music she loved, Tiffany was pushed toward pop.

“I didn’t even want to sing ‘I Think We’re Alone Now,’” she confesses, “But when I brought the demo home and played it for my friends, they all started dancing around the room. I wanted to be ‘cool, so I recorded it. Obviously, I’m glad.”

By 1987, spurred by her infamous “mall tour,” Tiffany was on the cover of teen magazines around the world. She racked up four Top 10 hits, with global record sales in excess of 15 million. Her headlining tour was one of the year’s most successful, even launching to superstar status opening act New Kids on the Block.

In the years since, as her commercial success cooled, Tiffany’s floated from genre-to-genre. In an effort to find her footing and prove herself as an artist, she dabble in R&B-inflected pop and dance. She’s remained in the public eye with a 2002 spread in Playboy and by winning the 2007 season of Celebrity Fit Club.

Musically, the return to her country roots started in earnest ten years ago. The first major step was her critically-acclaimed 2000 release The Color of Silence.
“It got people used to seeing me with a band,” she says of the rock-based disc which Billboard magazine declared one of the year’s best – and biggest surprises. “It got the message out there that I really can sing, that I’m a viable artist, that I am a songwriter.”

Four years ago, following the release of lauded electronica album Shut Up and Dance which was inspired by and dedicated largely to Tiffany’s LGBT fanbase (and returned her to dance music charts for the first time in well over a decade), the singer made a decision. She moved to Nashville to pursue her “heart’s desire” – a country music album — seriously..

“I didn’t want to shed the whole ‘Tiffany’ persona, but that was a different life,” says the star. With her famously red tresses dyed black, she immersed herself in the local music scene, spending nearly two years honing her skills as a songwriter, working with local music producers and musicians and putting the ball in motion for her reinvention.

The result is Tiffany’s eighth studio album Rose Tattoo. From the Doobie Brothers-influence first single “Feel the Music” and rollicking Thelma & Louise-inspired duet “Crazy Girls,” the self-released collection runs the gamut of contemporary country music. Tiffany shares writing credits on all but one of the eight songs.

“If you like Lady Antebellum, if you like Sugarland, if you like Taylor Swift or Keith Urban, this is the new country,” says Tiffany. “You don’t have to live in the backwoods to understand love stories, heartbreak, something like ‘Crazy Girls,’ about just letting it go and being wild for a night.”

To support the new album, Tiffany is hitting the road for shows around the country. On Friday, April 8, she lands one-night-only at San Francisco’s Rrazz Room. She plans the new material, her hits and songs which inspired her along the way for a 10:30 p.m. show.

“It’s an amazing thing for me right now to be able to bring all of it to a small, intimate place like The Rrazz Room,” she says. “I know when I go on the road in the next few months with my band, that intimacy won’t be there like it will be at The Rrazz Room. I love that, being there in the moment.”

Though she enjoys every track on the new album, Tiffany’s most excited to perform the ballads. “That’s what I do best, to be honest, she says, “It lets people know I really can sing. It always amazes me when people are shocked by how well I do live.”

For the Bay Area appearance, Tiffany anticipates a strong showing from her LGBT fanbase. Apparent from the start of her career, gay fans have remained true to the performer, who has reciprocated by appearing at Pride festivals around the country.

“I always say the gay community loves good music, they love talent, so they have continued to support me – which is awesome,” says Tiffany. “Even with this music, my fans have said, ‘I don’t know anything about country music’ – but they buy the album. Then they’re like, ‘Girl, you really bring it!’”

According to Tiffany, the music she writes is about universal feelings, not genre or sexual orientation. She points to “He Won’t Miss Me,” one of her favorite tracks from Rose Tattoo, as a great example.

“I love songs that are real and true, and I think people can relate,” she says of the wrenching ballad. “Whether it’s a friendship or a personal relationship, we’ve all been there at some place or time when we’re really chasing after somebody, and that person has already closed the door.”

That kind of emotional authenticity resonates with listeners, she says, especially gays.

“I think for me, with a gay following, they’re open-minded,” Tiffany says, “It’s like, ‘As long as we believe what you’re doing, we’ll stand behind you.’ I really appreciate that!”

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