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Tamia Talks ESSENCE Festival, Philanthropy & Balancing It All

ESSENCE Festival performer Tamia dishes on her upcoming performance and how much philanthropy means to her family.

Tamia made history this year as the first Canadian artist to receive a Best R&B Album Grammy nomination for her latest album, Beautiful Surprise. ESSENCE.com recently spoke with the singer about this accomplishment, as well as her excitement to perform at the ESSENCE Festival and the philanthropic work that’s dear to her heart.

ESSENCE.com: Why are you so thrilled to be a part of the ESSENCE Festival?

Tamia: Grant (my husband) and I were at the Festival last year and we received an award from McDonalds for the work we’ve done with The Tamia and Grant Hill Foundation. I’ve never performed at the Festival, but it’s been fun when I’ve gone in the past. You get a chance to watch a whole list of artists perform in one spot. I don’t know anywhere else you can do that. It’s a great time and you can take the entire family.

ESSENCE.com: What do you love most about performing live?

Tamia: You never know what’s going to happen depending on how you feed off the crowd. There’s something very organic about performing live. There’s a lot of people who still haven’t seen me perform live so I’m excited for that.

ESSENCE.com: You made history this year as the first Canadian female artist to get the Best R&B Album Grammy nomination for Beautiful Surprise. How did that feel?

Tamia: I’m super excited and it really is an honor to be recognized at the Grammys for the work you put your heart and soul into.

ESSENCE.com: There’s a great lineup of gospel artists performing at the Festival and you grew up in the church. Do you love gospel still?

Tamia: I grew up singing gospel music. I was six years old the first time I sang in front of the church. I remember grown people crying after hearing me sing. Music is very powerful.

ESSENCE.com: You’ve done a lot of philanthropic work, including raising awareness about multiple sclerosis. What causes are important to you?

Tamia: The work Grant and I are passionate about has to do with family, children and the arts. We have worked with multiple sclerosis, Habitat for Humanity and a charity called Hope Kids. In terms of the arts, we have a collection of African-American art and toured it to sponsor inner-city kids’ visits to art galleries to view the art. My husband’s family is from New Orleans, so we have a showing their as well. 

ESSENCE.com: Since you’ve been to New Orleans many times with your family, what makes it so special in your view? 

Tamia: New Orleans has great energy. It’s a very social and cultural town. When you go, you tend to meet up with friends, go to dinner and relax. Another great thing about New Orleans is the food.

ESSENCE.com: How do you balance your career and family life?

Tamia: I’m just trying to do my best day to day. It isn’t easy. Like a lot of working mothers, you try to do it all. It’s a juggling act. Sometimes you drop the ball, but you pick it up and keep on going.