Former child star ready to prove a point to fans

Thulani Gqirana

THE last time internationally acclaimed singer Tevin Campbell released a new album, it came out on cassette.

Now, he is back and hoping to sweep ardent fans off their feet at a show in Port Elizabeth tomorrow.

The platinum album singer will perform with Gino Lee, The Black Ties (Chad Saaiman, Lloyd Jansen and Keeno Lee), Robin P and MC Ashley Pienaar at the Divos concert at the Boardwalk Casino.

Campbell, who has been off the music scene for almost two decades, said he was slowly reinventing and reintroducing himself in the music industry.

“I have been quiet for a while and it is natural for people to wonder if I can still sing and with this tour, I will be showing them that I can still sing. I’m seriously looking forward to the looks on people’s faces when I hit the notes,” he said from his hotel room in Johannesburg yesterday. The 36-year- old star, whose hits include I’m Ready and Can We Talk?, said he decided to do the tour after the show organisers suggested he do it.

“I thought, why not?”

He is very excited to start his tour in the city tomorrow.

“The last time I was in South Africa was in 1999 and the music industry has changed so much. I have been trying to find my way and, because it’s like a whole new industry, it is like starting from scratch.

“So this is a good way to reintroduce myself.”

He will be sticking to the classics on this tour.

“While I do have new material that I wrote myself, there is a big demand for the classics and there are so many of them to cover. I might introduce some of my new songs, depending. I’ll feel out the audience.” He feels it is necessary to reintroduce himself to the industry because as a child star, his fans were in love with the voice and do not necessarily know him.

“I never told my story. When I first started out I was 12 and most of the songs were written for me and so people loved my voice, which I haven’t lost. I am blessed to have my music still played on radio stations to this day. But after the tour, my main objective is to go back to the studio and produce.”

The Brown Eyed Girl singer said he auditioned for a Broadway show in 2004 after stepping out of the spotlight.

“Most people do not know that I was on [the musical] Hairspray for six years. It was very important for me to do a good job there because R&B artists do not last long on Broadway. So I wanted to last a long time there. And Hairspray was a great form of voice training.”

The multi-talented Campbell, who has also appeared in movies and a TV series, is single. “I’m not a big believer in marriage but I would love to have a child by the time I’m 40,” he said.

The former child star said he felt sorry for the young celebrities of today. “It is so much harder for them than it was for me. They are famous in the era of social media, which is a really powerful tool that was not around when I was still a child.

“The [Justin Biebers] are kids and they will do things, but social media has opened them up to scrutiny.”

Campbell was one of the youngest solo artists ever to be signed to a major international record label and has worked with some of the industry’s top writers and producers.

He performs in Cape Town on Saturday and Johannesburg on Sunday.

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