(BlackDoctor.org) — Who is Tiffany Monique? She’s a member of the three-woman troupe of backup singers for Beyonce, famously known as The Mama’s. Tiffany Monique’s newly released and second video, Anytime, centers on unrequited love between a man and a woman, but could easily be the theme of her weight loss journey and pursuit of a solo music career. The lyrics express a sentiment that if you see someone for who they truly are instead of through your own narrowed focus and judgments, you may recognize their value in your life before it is too late.
Anytime’s smooth jazz beat coupled with Tiffany’s equally brilliant vocal delivery appropriately conveys a quiet but powerful lesson in authentic love, such as the plea to “look at the whole person, because you might see that you have someone good that you are about to lose.”
With a desire to be a solo recording artist since childhood, Tiffany studied music and communications at Morgan State University in Maryland. It was there that she began to gain weight on her 5’3” frame.
“I gained the freshman 15 lbs, and then the sophomore 15lbs, the junior and senior. I definitely wasn’t as active in college as I was in high school, so the weight just piled on and I didn’t notice the impact as it was coming.”
While still a student at Morgan, Tiffany was asked to join a musical group with other female singers from the school. The name of the group was On Point, and it was while with them that Tiffany, just a sophomore, experienced her first taste of the music industry image standards that would begin to define her career path. On Point was pursuing a recording contract and company executives began making references to “ the bigger one,” Tiffany recalls, who was now weighing over 160 pounds from her pre-college weight of 105 pounds.
“I started looking around and wondering who were they were talking about? I mean, I wasn’t the tallest one, and I definitely was not wearing plus sizes, so they could not have been referring to me. “ As it turns out they were. In fact, Clive Davis, the founder, and head of Arista Records at the time, bluntly stated that while Tiffany had talent he felt “I did not have the image to compete with the other divas on his roster. The emphasis was fully on my image.”
The situation introduced Tiffany to a reality of how strong the impact of image is in the music industry. “Still, I admit, I was kind of a purist,” she says, acknowledging her naiveté. In spite of the music executives harsh words, “I genuinely believed I had the talent, the background and the experience, so surely these things together would assist me in furthering my career as a solo artist.” But when Tiffany only seemed to realize opportunities as a studio singer or background singer, she questioned why she couldn’t get further as a solo artist. “It always came back to my weight.”
One of those background opportunities turned out to be with superstar, Beyonce. She and her team were seeking high caliber singers who “would push and challenge Beyonce to sing better. “It just so happened that the three of us were big girls!” Tiffany adds. “To this day, we have never been asked to lose weight or change anything about ourselves. I appreciated that they appreciated our talent.”
Tiffany was thrilled to perform with and learn from a major talent, but after several years of touring, and now at 235 lbs., Tiffany began to reassess her career. “I started to analyze what made artists like Beyonce really successful? And, if I wanted that level of success, what steps would I need to take to get there?” Even though full-figured artists like Jill Scott, Angie Stone and Adele have “ushered in a new wave of image acceptance,” Tiffany concedes it is still an uphill battle. “Thin and sexy is still in when it comes to the music industry.”
So, although happy touring the world as one of The Mamas, Tiffany found herself growing increasingly unhappy. “I was no longer comfortable in my own skin. I had borderline high cholesterol, was pre-diabetic, and had knee issues that required physical therapy for nearly a year. I wanted to feel as good on the outside as being in music made me feel on the inside.” Coupled with her desire to get back on track toward her personal career aspirations, Tiffany began to accept what her challenge truly was – she had to lose weight.
“Being a solo artist is really important to me. It’s been my dream since I was a child. And because I knew this was an accomplishment I wanted personally, I started to acknowledge how much it would help me professionally as well.”
Tiffany Monique: Making Her Musical Weight Known was originally published on blackdoctor.org
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