Fiery Tamar Braxton Holding Nothing Back
By ED CONDRAN
When the capacity crowd at Maryland's Fillmore Silver Spring roared as Tamar Braxton walked on stage last week, the charismatic diva smiled. The grin appeared to be half pleasure, half relief.
Braxton, who has lived in the shadow of sister Toni Braxton for much of her professional life, is finally receiving her due as a singer. It's easy to see that Braxton is loving every minute of it as she worked the stage like a veteran with every hip shake and provocative gesture.
"I love performing in front of an audience," Braxton said. "This tour has been thrilling to me, playing before so many fans, who are singing the words to my songs and dancing along with me. It took me awhile to get here but I'm finally here."
Tamar Braxton and Toni Braxton, who has experienced remarkable success, are singing sisters but they certainly have their differences. Toni Braxton, is nine years her sister's senior, is laidback and gentle. Her younger sibling is a pistol on stage, on television and during interviews.
Tamar Braxton, 37, who will perform Friday, May 30, at the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino, is fiery, funny and flamboyant. It's not surprising that the glamorous vocalist is a reality television star ("Braxton Family Values,'' "Tamar & Vince'' ). It is surprising, however, that she is back as a recording artist. After experiencing a commercial letdown with her debut album, 'Tamar ,' which dropped in 2000, who could have guessed that Braxton would make another album, "Love and War," which was released last September?
"I needed to get over the experience of my first album," Braxton said prior to her Silver Spring, Maryland show. "I never felt that album represented me. I couldn't sing the songs I wanted to sing. I wanted to make an album this time that really captured the essence of me. I was finally able to write the songs that I wanted to write."
Most of the songs on the tepid "Tamar," were hand selected for Braxton by Dreamworks. "It felt like a karaoke album," Braxton said. "I wasn't able to make decisions and it was frustrating. That experience wasn't exactly what I dreamed of when I thought about what it would be like to make an album."
However, Braxton is satisfied with the catchy, moving R&B on the Grammy nominated "Love and War." There are nine Braxton co-writes. There's the perky dance cuts but the songs that stand out are the baroque R&B ballads. Braxton, who has a big set of pipes, belts out the array of love songs with passion. "I was inspired with this album," Braxton said. "I had something vital that I wanted to get out of me."
Much of that was inspired by the relationship with her husband Vince Herbert. "We've been through a lot," Braxton said. "When Vince got sick (a pulmonary embolism), things changed. We're like velcro. We're that close. There was a lot to deal with but things moved to another level and that impacted me as a person, an entertainer and as a writer. The passion I have for him and life came out in the songs."
What you see is what you get with Braxton. That's the reason her music and her reality television series work. "I think you can see whether a person is real or not on reality television or in music," Braxton said. "But you can see with me that I'm honest. That's the way I'm wired. I'm absolutely honest on 'Tamar and Vince.' I'm so used to life being filmed all the time that I don't think about it for a minute. I just live life the way Tamar does. People saw that particularly after we had our baby. It was difficult for me that I didn't connect right away with our baby and Vince did connect. I was upset about that. It was apparent to anyone that watched. I can't hide who I am but I think that's a good thing in the world of entertainment."
It's certainly good for the voyeurs that Braxton is an open live wire, who is adept at entertaining whether she is onstage or in the kitchen with her husband and child.
"For me it's a natural thing," Braxton said. "I tell it like it is, whether you like it or not. I'm a strong personality."
That's evident at her concerts. Braxton has that rare larger than life persona, which is sorely missed in the world of contemporary music. "I have such a great time onstage," Braxton said. "I go all out. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I've waited so long for this opportunity. I'm making the most of it."