R&B singer Tevin Campbell was a bonafide child star with numerous hits under his belt in the early 1990’s.
A protégé of the great Quincy Jones, Campbell was signed to Warner Bros. Records at 13-years-old and quickly became a star after Jones released his single “Tomorrow (A Better You Better Me),” which reached number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart in June 1990.
The Waxahachie, Texas-bred vocalist went on to release four albums – “T.E.V.I.N.” (1991), “I’m Ready” (1993), “Back to the World” (1996)
and “Tevin Campbell” (1999); in addition to appearing on TV shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Moesha” and “NY Undercover.”
Campbell left the music scene in Sept. 1999 after being arrested after soliciting a lewd act from an undercover police officer during a sting operation in Van Nuys, Calif. After being mum on the issue for five years, Campbell agreed to beak his silence and interview with me for my debut column for AOL Black Voices on Sept. 28, 2004.
During my “BV Buzz” interview, Campbell spoke about the 1999 arrest, talked about Wyclef Jean dissing him and of course, his sexuality. Read the feature interview below:
LEARNING THE HARD WAY
AOL Black Voices, Sept. 28, 2004
Tevin Campbell came on the music scene in 1989 when he was 11 years old. Like other child stars, Campbell’s wild ways and immaturity landed him in some trouble along the way. In 1999, several months after his fourth album bowed, Campbell was arrested in Los Angeles for what was reported to be soliciting an undercover police officer, as well as possessing a small amount of marijuana.
When I caught up with Campbell recently at Los Angeles’ famous Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N’ Waffles, the singer told me that much of what was reported about his run-in with the law was inaccurate.
“Some stories were true, and some were not true,” explained Campbell. “They were making up a lot of stuff, and the made-up stuff is really what annoys me. But that’s what happens when you do stuff that’s not right.”
Campbell, now 28, acknowledges that at that point in his career, he was spinning out of control. He won’t clarify what exactly happened on that day nearly five years ago, but he teased, “If you really want to know what happened, you’ll have to wait until I write my book. I’m going to save it all and tell it then.”
Something Campbell was willing to chat about was his fallout with Wyclef Jean. Jean worked on Campbell’s 1999 self-titled CD, but during a “106 & Park” appearance several years later, The Fugees member mentioned Campbell was the least favorite of the artists he’s produced.
“It started out good,” recalled Campbell, “but then there was one night when I had too much to drink. I had, like, eight cosmopolitans in one sitting, and I went to the studio and said some things that were inappropriate because I was drunk.”
Exactly what was said to make Jean have such animosity toward Campbell?
“There was one song I didn’t like, and I said some things about the song. I said some bad stuff. Then I was talking to my mom and said some things that were disrespectful, and he didn’t like that. That was back in the day when I was young and out of control and doing whatever I wanted to do. Prior to that, we had a lot of fun together. But after that night, he thought of me as a brat,” remembered the singer.
And now that Campbell is readying his return to the music business, he admits he’s finally grown up. “I could never come back to the business acting the way that I did when I was 21 years old,” he said. “I learned the hard way!”
Six years later, the singer is anticipating his return to the music scene and enjoying his bachelor status. “I’m am single and I’m dating. I’m dating around, nothing serious,” joked the singer.
Their have been numerous rumors about Campbell’s sexuality over the years, and the singer says he doesn’t define his sexuality.
“No I don’t. Your sexuality is not everything that has to do with your sexuality. Especially in my case. I could sit here and tell you anything and lie to you, but you’re never really going to know unless you’re in my bedroom and see the things I like. That’s the bottom line! That’s all that I am going to say because I have to leave a little bit to the imagination,” he closed.
In recent years, Campbell, now 35-years-old, starred on Broadway as Seaweed J. Stubbs in the musical “Hairspray.” He also toured with the production in both Melbourne and Sydney, Australia.
In 2009, Campbell made an appearance at the 2009 BET Awards and performed a tribute to The O’Jays along with Trey Songz, Tyrese, and Johnny Gill.
Campbell, who still performs spot concert dates, recently posted a video of himself singing his hit single “Can We Talk” on YouTube.
VIDEO: Tevin Campbell performing “Can We Talk.”