Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
Competition is always a factor in the music business. But the competition is especially fierce this summer in the female R&B/hip-hop ranks.
With the Aug. 19 release of her third album, "Still" (Elektra), Tamia finds herself up against Ashanti, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Monica, Blu Cantrell and Mya.
Although it has been three years since her last album, "A Nu Day," the singer aims to secure her niche by focusing on song substance and vocal delivery vs. jumping on the bandwagon du jour.
"I don't want to be on the trend of 'What's the hottest thing now?' " Tamia says. "I want to have a career like Luther Vandross, where 10 years from now people can hear one of my songs and remember exactly what they were doing and who they were seeing when they first heard it."
Assisting Tamia in that endeavor are a few heavyweights: R. Kelly, Jermaine Dupri, Aurelius 7 and Babyface.
The first single, "Officially Missing You," was written and produced by Aurelius 7 (Ashanti). It's a departure for the hip-hop producer, because the song is a melancholy lament built around an acoustic guitar.
"It was different than what I thought he was going to bring," Tamia says. "Initially, I was a little nervous about working with him ... But when we met in the studio, we instantly clicked. The song was very bare -- just a guitar and a click track. That's the best way to record, because you can really put emotion in there."
Tamia's career has been built on her success with emotional ballads. "You Put a Move on My Heart," "Spend My Life With You" (with Eric Benét) and "Stranger in My House" have set the course for her new album.
Tamia has also been introduced to a younger audience through a cameo on Fabolous' latest single and video, "Into You," which originally appeared on her 1996 self-titled Warner Bros. debut. The two have made several high-profile appearances together, including the July 4 premiere of their video on BET's "106 & Park." They also plan to perform on MTV2's "Hard Rock Live" Aug. 20 in Orlando, Fla.
Excerpted from the July 26, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services  section.
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