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Tevin Campbell

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Some artists take a lifetime to reach musical maturity. Tevin Campbell was born that way.

Consider: Before the tender age of 13, Tevin had his first No. I hit with "Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)," as heard on Quincy Jonesí historic multi-platinum, multi-Grammy-winning release Back On The Block. His follow-up was his own million-selling debut album, T.E. V.I.N., followed in quick succession by the smash Iím Ready and his critically-acclaimed Back To The World.

In short, for nearly half of his 22 years, Tevin has been a certified musical superstar. With a fervent following that literally spans the globe, he has the kind of success, on stage and in the studio, that most artists need a whole lifetime to achieve.

But record sales, chart numbers and concert grosses only begin to tell the story of this uniquely gifted young man. Creativity, the love of music and the ability to turn his remarkable vision into memorable words and melody have always been at the core of Tevinís success. And itís that love, ability and vision that are front and center in the strongest, most assured and appealing album of Tevinís career, titled simply and aptly, Tevin Campbell.

ĎThis is my favorite album," Tevin declares of this collection of material spotlighting consistently potent vocal performances and topnotch original songwriting. "It speaks to who I am right now really well. Iíve learned a lot about life, about friendships and just about people, generally. At this point in my life, Iím happy with where I am, who I am and what I have to offer musically."

Among the many highlights of Tevin Campbell is the moving track "Donít Throw Your Life Away," co-written by Tevin with Narada Michael Walden and Sally Jo Dakota, a song which evokes his childhood days singing in a Waxahachie, Texas, church choir. "I was inspired to do that song after a young family member was shot in Texas. It was a tragedy that really struck me and it started me thinking about the dilemmas kids face today. Itís as if, with all this shooting and killing, that they didnít have anything to live for. So, I wanted to offer them something in my own way, some kind of hope."

Another key selection from Tevin Campbell is "Since I Lost You." Likewise, it has an intriguing point of origin. "Whatís wild about this song is that we used a sample from James Taylorís ĎFire & Rain,í which I had never heard before. I knew who James Taylor was, of course, but when I finished writing the song and was driving over to record it, Fire and Rainí came on the radio. And I thought, ĎOkay, this song was meant to be.í"

On the other end of the stylistic spectrum, the sweet somethings skillfully delivered in both English and Spanish on the alluring ballad "Dandelion" come together to create what Tevin calls "the definition of a beautiful song. Usually I have to hear a song more than once to feel it and deliver it. But as soon as I heard this song, I knew it was just for me."

Tevin Campbellís debut single is the slinky and savvy "Another Way." Crafted by the internationally renowned House Music producer Mark Kinchen, the track continues Tevinís tradition of crafting meaningful music that transcends the latest fad or dance step.

Itís a tradition that carries through on each and every selection of this remarkable album, which, along with Kinchen, boasts an all-star roster of top producers and songwriters. Hot producer Stevie J (Sean "Puffy" Combs, Notorious B.I.G., Total, Mase) spent serious studio time with Tevin, cutting "Dandelion," "For Your Love," and "Losing All Control," while Bad Boy Entertainmentís First Lady" Faith Evans co-wrote "The Only One For Me" with Tevin. Grammy-winning producer/rapper Wyclef Jean contributed the pulsating "Never Again" to the collection, while Daryl Simmons was at the helm of Tevinís candlelit duet with SWVís Cheryl "Coko" Gamble, "Everything You Are."

ĎTevinís got the kind of gift people like me look for," says Simmons. "Obviously, since the first time a producer heard Tevinís voice, theyíve believed he could bring their songs to life."

Itís a contention borne out at each stage of Tevinís extraordinary career. In 1989, no less a musical master than Quincy Jones thought 12-year-old Tevinís soaring alto could fill the slot that many thought had been reserved for Michael Jackson on the above-mentioned Back On The Block. "I heard Michael sing when he was 12, and I heard Tevin sing when he was 12," the visionary Jones recalled. "I got the same feeling from both experiences."

With word-of-mouth like that, itís no wonder Tevin drew the ears and attention of the music world at an early age. Shortly after Back On The Block, a certain artist (then called Prince) tapped Tevin to perform on his soundtrack to Graffiti Bridge. The result, "Round and Round," topped charts and gave Tevin instant industry credibility.

That status was quick to change when, in 1991, Narada Michael Walden, Prince and Al B. Sure! weighed in on the production of Tevinís official solo debut, T.E.V.1.N, immediately establishing the young artistís platinum-selling stature. The follow-up, Iím Ready, was certainly an aptly-titled offering, earning Tevin two million in sales and landing him the honor of Billboard magazineís No. 1 Most Played Crossover Artist of 1994, thanks to such hits as "Can We Talk" and "Always In My Heart," adding to Tevinís grand total of three Top 5 pop hits and six No. 1 R&B chart toppers.

But even before he could begin work on a new album, former Take 6 member Mervyn Warren asked Tevin to perform on the Grammy-winning Handers Messiah: A Soulful Celebration. And that was only one of many guest studio appearances Tevin was to make in subsequent months. He recorded "One Hand, One Heart" for Songs From West Side Story "Keep On Pushing" for All Men Are Brothers: A Tribute To Curtis Mayfield; "Oh Holy Nights for A Very Special Christmas; and "You Will Know" with Black Men United on the soundtrack for Jasonís Lyric. After receiving a thunderous ovation for singing "Come Fly With Me" during a star-studded Las Vegas tribute to Frank Sinatra, Tevin was asked by Paul Anka to sing a duet on "One Kiss,í produced by David Foster for Ankaís latest album.

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