"Faith Renée Evans" (pronounced /fe?? ?v?ns/) (born June 10, 1973) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, actress and author. Often referred to as the 'First Lady of R&B', she is also the widow of the Notorious B.I.G. For over a decade, she has worked with numerous successful artists such as Tupac Shakur, Mary J. Blige, Diddy, Kelly Price, Whitney Houston, Usher, Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, A Tribe Called Quest, DMX, Nas, 112
, Twista, The Game and Carl Thomas.
Evans was born in Lakeland, Florida to an Italian-American father and African-American mother, Helene . Her father was a musician who left before Evans was even born. 18 year old Helene returned to Newark, New Jersey and raised Faith with the help of Faith's Aunt Johnnie Mae. Evans began singing at church at age two, and at age four, she caught the attention of the congregation of the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newark when she sang Let the Sunshine In .
"While attending University High School in Newark, she sang with the chorus and jazz bands and, encouraged by Helene, entered outside pageants, festivals and contests, where her voice would be noticed and praised." I was raised in a very, very Christian home, Evans told i-D magazine in a 1998 interview. It was church, school, church, school. I could hardly go to the corner of my block. It was strict.
At 18, she won a scholarship to Fordham University in New York City to major in marketing. After a year, she left because she had daughter Chyna Griffin with music producer Kiyamma Griffin. Griffin is known for hit songs such as the "Your Child" - Remix by Mary J. Blige featuring Ghostface Killah from her double platinum 1999 Mary (album). Evans then moved to Los Angeles to pursue her singing career, and did so with her mother's blessing. I felt she could always go back to school, Helene Evans told People in 1998. Because her mind wasn't going to be there. It was going to be on her music. Evans was in Los Angeles writing songs and doing backup vocals for Al B. Sure!, Mary J. Blige, and Pebbles when she caught the ear of famed R&B producer Sean Combs, a.k.a. P.Diddy. It was rumored that when he first heard Evans sing, he described her voice as feeling "like rain." He signed her to his Bad Boy label in 1994 as the label's first female artist.
2 weeks after meeting at a photoshoot, she married The Notorious B.I.G.(Christopher Wallace) on 4 August 1994. The marriage was turbulent as had affairs with Lil Kim and Charlie Baltimore. But the two did reunite and their son Christopher Wallace Jr was born on 29 October 1996. Sadly, just five months later Wallace was murdered in a California drive-by shooting.
By summer 1997 while Bad Boy Records tribute to Wallace I'll Be Missing You dominated charts worldwide, Evans was pregnant by Todd Russaw. Her son Joshua was born later that year and the two married in summer 1998 . In February 1998 Evans, Combs, and 112 all won a Grammy award for their tribute to Wallace. In 2007 they had son Evan Ryder Russaw.
Evans dated musician and producer Kiyamma Griffin, which produced daughter Chyna. She later split from Griffin, but from his help, Evans worked as a session singer with Al B. Sure, whom she met through producer Sean "Puffy" Combs. Combs liked Evans's sound and signed her to his fledgling label Bad Boy Records. She co-wrote and sang backup on Usher's debut album Usher, as well as Mary J. Blige's "My Life", two projects in which Combs served as an executive producer. The breadwinner of the label was a Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G.. He and Evans met at a Bad Boy photoshoot and married only two months after meeting on 9 August 1994. Evans was first featured as a guest artist in Biggie's 1994 hit, "One More Chance".
Evans released her debut album on August 29, 1995. The self-titled CD, "Faith", became a hit based on the songs "Soon as I Get Home" and her debut single "You Used to Love Me." Her 3rd & 4th singles, "Ain't Nobody" and "Come Over," respectively, failed to make any real impact on Urban and Pop radio, with the latter track failing to chart at all. The album (and Faith's stage name) were originally just simply "Faith"; but shortly after the album's release, Sherri Carter of BET's Video Soul stated that Faith appended her last name to both her stage name AND the album title in an attempt to distinguish herself as more than The Notorious B.I.G.'s wife . The release also contains a cover of the Rose Royce hit "Love Don't Live Here Anymore" featuring Mary J. Blige.
March 1996, the album was certified Platinum and sold over a million copies, according to RIAA. By that time the rap war between Biggie and rapper Tupac Shakur had intensified, which turned personal for both after Shakur alleged that he had slept with Evans. Evans, who was pregnant with Biggie's child, was outraged because she said she had only met Shakur for a recording.
The rivalry turned ugly after Shakur's tragic death in September 1996 in Las Vegas. By the time of the birth of their son, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Jr. on 29 October 1996, the couple's marriage had fallen apart due to the hip-hop rivalry and rumors of Biggie's philandering, most notably with female rappers Lil' Kim and Charli Baltimore.
Evans was present at a Soul Train music awards party Biggie attended on the night of March 8th in Los Angeles, California. Unfortunately, it would be the last time Evans would see her husband. A few hours after she left the club, in the early hours of March 9, 1997, news had spread that Biggie was gunned down in a hail of gunshots by an unidentified assailant. Evans was devastated when she heard the news of his death and went through a deep depression.
Puff Daddy helped get Evans out of her gloom to record a tribute song titled "I'll Be Missing You". The song, which featured Puffy, Evans, and Bad Boy Records group 112
, reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1997 and stayed there for eleven weeks. The song won Puffy and Evans a Grammy Award for Best Rap Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
==="Keep the Faith" (1998)===
After marrying Todd Russaw and having a third child, named Joshua, Evans released her long-awaited follow-up, "Keep the Faith" in 1998. Unlike the solemn approach to her first album, this album spoke of optimism, good times, and love. Among its biggest hits include the Chic
-sampled track "Love Like This" (#7 US), the P. Diddy helmed "All Night Long" (#9 US), and Babyface lent her a number-one R&B hit song with "Never Gonna Let You Go". Outside of her own albums, Evans found another hit that year with Whitney Houston and Kelly Price on the song "Heartbreak Hotel". That album went certified Platinum As of July 1999, "Keep the Faith" has sold over 1.5 million copies.
Evans released her third album, 2001's "Faithfully", which included the hit singles "You Gets No Love" (#8 R&B) and "I Love You" (#2 R&B). For the album's promotion, Evans went through a transformation in her physical appearance. Always a slightly full figured woman, Evans shed over fifty pounds and presented a sexier image that was present for the videos to "I Love You" and "Burnin' Up". Fatman Scoop also sampled her vocals on the song "Be Faithful" in 2003, which reached number one in the UK. Although the album wasn't as largely promoted as her first two, it was a moderate success. The album was certified platinum in January 2002, with about 1.8 million units sold.
In 2004, Evans and her husband Todd Russaw made negative headlines in January 2004 when they were arrested due to drug possession, driving under the influence, and improper vehicle tags. The couple was fined, sentenced to three years' probation; and ordered to attend rehab for 13 weeks. Evans later incorporated this ordeal into the lyrics of "Again", the first single released from the album "The First Lady".
==="The First Lady" (2005)===
Evans rebounded with a record that many of her fans have proclaimed as her strongest record to date, "The First Lady" (released on April 5, 2005) her Capitol record debut album. After finding success with her Twista collaboration, "Hope", Evans released her first song of new material in three years with "Again", a biographical account of her life struggles (its second verse mentioned the 2004 drug incident). "The First Lady" came out commemorating her tenth anniversary in the industry and her first record on Capitol Records after leaving Bad Boy in 2003. With the help of "Again" reaching the top ten of Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart, and appearances on David Letterman, BET, The Jools Holland Show(UK) and MTV the album entered the Billboard 200 at number two with 160,000 copies sold in its first week, marking the largest first-week total of her career. "The First Lady" was certified Gold selling over 500,000 copies 4 weeks after its release, Nielsen SoundScan reports the album has sold 713,000 copies to date, more than 100,000 short of her 2001 release which was certified Platinum. The second single, "Mesmerized", saw Faith going with a 70's retro-funk soul vibe. The track failed to crack top fifty R&B despite numerous remixes; however a dance remix by the Freemasons went on to hit number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.
At the end of 2005, Evans released her fifth studio album, "A Faithful Christmas", a Christmas collection of new material and covers of seasonal classics. She also made lots of appearances on holiday TV programming. In early 2006, Faith Evans' third single, "Tru Love" (produced by Jermaine Dupri and Bryan Michael Cox), gradually gained ground on urban/urban AC radio, becoming her eleventh solo R&B hit.
Also in 2005, Evans appeared along with Jessi Colter and Cece White as a feature vocalist on the Shooter Jennings song "Southern Comfort" from the album Put the O Back in Country.
== New Studio Album ==
In a recent interview, Evans stated that after she finishes doing all of the promotion for her new book, she will return to the studio to record a new album. No official release date or title has been announced.
== Autobiography ==
Evans released a “tell all” book, titled Keep the Faith: A Memoir, on August 29, 2008. It is said to detail the highs and lows of the singer’s life, but will also shed light on Evans’ controversial relationship with her late husband, the Notorious B.I.G. "I want people to understand that although he was a large part of my life, my story doesn’t actually begin or end with Big’s death. My journey has been complicated on many levels. And since I am always linked to Big, there are a lot of misconceptions about who I really am. It’s not easy putting your life out there for the masses. But I’ve decided I’ll tell my own story. For Big. For my children. And for myself."
*1998: "Keep the Faith"
*2005: "The First Lady"
==Awards and nominations==
**2003, Best Contemporary R&B Album: "Faithfully" (nominated)
**2002, Best Female R&B Artist (nominated)
*Lady of Soul Awards
**2000, Outstanding Music Video: "Love Is Blind" (nominated)
**1996, Best Female R&B/Soul Album: "Faith"
**1996, Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist: "You Used to Love Me"
*MTV Video Music Awards
**2000, Best Rap Video: "Love Is Blind" (nominated)
**1999, Best R&B Video: "Heartbreak Hotel"
**1997, Best R&B Video: "I'll Be Missing You"
**1997, Viewer's Choice: "I'll Be Missing You" (nominated)
*Soul Train Awards
**2006, Best Female R&B/Soul Album: The First Lady (nominated)
**1998, Outstanding Music Video: "I'll Be Missing You"
* "Turn It Up" (2000)
* "The Fighting Temptations" (2003)
Referenced from Wikipedia: Faith Evans