So, this is intended to be the first in a long series of updates that will center around righting a serious musical wrong. If you, like me, have grown up in the constant shadow of elder family members at cookouts alluding to your dearth of knowledge in pre-2000 musical phenomena, then this series will equip you with the tools to put those crotchety uncles & aunts in their place. Yes, you may technically fall somewhat ambiguously on the dividing line between the baby-boomer and millennial generations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy both of what these musical eras have to offer without constant fear of probing and questioning. To that end, I present to you, the first artist spotlight in a series that hopes to equip you with the facts and figures needed to truly claim your seat at the adult table. Without further ado,
The 90’s were an effective gladiatorial death-match between artists, with the likes of R. Kelly, Maxwell, Brian McKnight, and Luther Vandross all exchanging vocal blows all laid over simple, yet well-framing, production. Undeniably however, some of the greatest music was created as a result of this bloody commercial back-and-forth. In short, when your auntie hollers, “They don’t make music like they used to!” over Babyface’s “Tender Lover” after her fourth glass of sangria, she’s not completely wrong.
We start our series off with a male R&B vocal powerhouse, arguably the most vocally talented male tenor to emerge from the dog-eat-dog world of early 90’s R&B, and the short-lived baby-faced romantic interest of Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince, Tevin Campbell. In an era where the vocal bar was set so high, Tevin Campbell surpasses expectations with his absolutely mind-blowing upper register. His long time friendship with noted R&B hit-maker producer Babyface has resulted in some of the greatest musical productions. Such songs as “Can We Talk”, “I’m Ready”, and “Tell Me What You Want Me to Do” set the vocal benchmark for male tenors for the rest of the decade. Additionally, the attention given to the background vocals and exceptional runs throughout the delivery propel Tevin Campbell into a category of his own. Tevin Campbell most definitely uses every bit of his lofty 4-octave range to his advantage. However, the pièce de résistance and crowning jewel of Mr. Campbell’s illustrious career has to be his contributions to the soundtrack of The Goofy Movie. Not only did he lend the vocals for the character Powerline, he also sang the two greatest songs in the entire movie, “Stand Out” and “I2I”. If this doesn’t propel him into the annals of absolute critical stardom, then I have absolutely no idea what could.
Alas, Tevin’s more recent commercial productions were commercial flops in comparison to his early work. It was difficult for the young artist to recreate his initial double-platinum project “T.E.V.I.N.”, but it’s quite impossible to refrain from being optimistic about the whispers of a possible new project on the horizon.
Artist: Tevin Campbell
Notable Tracks: “Can We Talk”, “I’m Ready”, “Tell Me What You Want Me to Do”, “Shhh”, “Stand Out” and “I2I”
Musical Strengths: Upper vocal register, Timeless production
Recommended Albums: T.E.V.I.N.; “The Best of Tevin Campbell”