Tevin Campbell: Teen Star, Boy Wonder
by Janel Sanders
Can we talk for a minute about our mans Tevin Campbell?! A songbird of the 90s that will forever live in our hearts. At a young age, Campbell hit our airwaves with the sounds of R&B, soul, pop, and new jack swing. He had a voice that we loved to listen to and a face that we could not get enough of.
Tevin Campbell began singing gospel at Joshua Chapel in a small town in Dallas, Texas. His voice was so passionate and strong, his mother arranged for him to audition for jazz musician, Bobbi Humphrey who heard the talent in Campbell’s voice and submitted audio and video to Warner Bro. Records.
In 1988, Campbell was signed. His debut single “Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)”, produced by the legendary Quincy Jones, reached No. 1 on Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Singles by June 1990. This 13-year-old had no idea where he was headed, but Benny Medina, Quincy Jones and Babyface were determined to lead him down the path of success in his early years.
Campbell debuted is first album T.E.V.I.N in 1991 that included his No. 1 hit “Tell Me What You Want Me to Do” and then came “Alone with You”. This album reached No. 5 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Album charts. Campbell’s life was going up and so were the octaves in his voice. By 1993, he dropped what we all thought to be his greatest album, I’m Ready.
Campbell stated that he wanted to have a more mature sound to reflect his current state of mind. He wanted everyone to see that he was not the same cute kid star that everyone was used to hearing. This album was produced by a number of great producers and artist such as Babyface and Quincy Jones. “Can We Talk” reached No. 1, again, for R&B hits and many other songs from that album hit the charts in the months to follow.
The album reached the 18th spot on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Album charts making it double Platinum. This was the peak of his career.
Not only did Campbell have the attention of producers and composers, he also caught the eye of television and movie directors. Tevin Campbell was a guest star on shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Moesha, and an episode of NY Undercover. He also played the voice of Powerline in A Goofy Movie.
Going through the years, this star continued to make music, but the focus was different as he became older. Campbell released three more albums between 1996 and 2001. His last album compilation, The Best of Tevin Campbell was the last album produced and after a few mishaps in Campbell’s career he stopped making music but continued to do international tours.
Though he has not made any recent music, we can still hear Campbell’s music playing through the airwaves. We don’t know about you guys but “Can We Talk” is in heavy rotation on our playlists. Tevin Campbell was and will forever be the teen R&B singer that stole our hearts.