Tiffany Inks Her Status in Country Music — Exclusive Video
"I wanted to be the country version of Stevie Nicks, but before you knew it I was heading in a pop direction, touring the world, having No. 1 singles and loving every minute of it."
Her new album, 'Rose Tattoo,' has Tiffany's career coming full circle. The iconic pop star's venture into country music is not a first, as she traveled to Nashville with sights set on a country record deal when she was just nine years old. After being turned down, the California native returned to the west coast but refused to give up her dream. Tiffany continued recording country demo tapes, and by age 12 started to become not just a talented singer but also seasoned performer.
"Everyone was saying to get more stage experience, do more showcases around Los Angeles," she recalls. "But that takes you being a model, actress, dancer ... So I took a million classes and started performing at a club called the Rose Tattoo. That was my first gig."
And thus the name of her new, independently released album, which the singer/songwriter explains took 10 years to make. "I wanted to go deeper than a tattoo on my arm. I was like, 'What really started this off for me? Where did I really learn to work an audience?'" Tiffany reflects. "At that time, I sang anything from Broadway to country ... That's where I branched out as an artist and fell in love with all types of music. That's what 'Rose Tattoo' is about: a celebration of people who have influenced me, like Stevie Nicks, Emmylou Harris, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Led Zeppelin.
Tiffany, her background vocalist Jennifer Friend and guitarists Justin Zimmer and Justin Ostrander take a seat on stools set up in the green room of our New York City studios, where they're performing a few songs for the AOL Music staff. First on the list is 'Feel the Music,' a song tailor-made for girls' night out.
"I've been married most of my life," explains the songbird, who turns 40 this October. "I have a 19-year-old son. So now I kinda have a life again ... a little bit. [laughs] I was writing about girlfriends of mine who are single, and how I feel when I go out. I love my husband ... I don't want to get into too much trouble. But it's nice to go out to a club and know you can still turn heads."
Tiffany has also turned heads on the small screen, developing a whole new fan base with her roles in two science-fiction movies, 'Mega Piranha' and 'Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid,' the latter alongside fellow '80s pop icon, Debbie Gibson. A huge sci-fi fan herself, Tiffany says next on her acting wish-list is a role with vampires. But for now, her affinity for mythological bloodsuckers is influencing her songwriting, at least for the next tune she performs for us.
"I live on eight acres out in the country in Nashville, and it gets creepy and foggy. It's the best atmosphere to write songs. We were sitting outside and a good friend of mine, Tommy Wright, said, 'I'm gonna write you a song for 'True Blood.'' I said, 'If you do that, I'll try to get onto the show somehow.' He came back to me with a song called 'Love You Good.' Hopefully we'll be able to get it out there. This song is so different ... It's a Cajun-witchy song."
Much to our staff's delight, Tiffany's breakthrough 1987 hit, 'I Think We're Alone Now,' is up next on the set-list, with a different sound and arrangement from her original version, as she and her bandmates perform acoustic with a country vibe. Much to our surprise, Tiffany explains that she was at first lukewarm about this song that launched her to international stardom.
"I didn't want to record 'I Think We're Alone Now,' because I thought it was too dance and too pop," she remembers of first hearing the original Tommy James & the Shondells version at age 14. "But I took it home to my girlfriends, and they were dancing around. I wanted to be cool ... "
Tiffany had our whole staff dancing around to the classic hit, and at one point she stopped singing and had us take over lead vocals. Proving the timelessness of 'I Think We're Alone Now,' everyone from our college-aged interns to our 30-something staffers were singing along, word for word.
With the move to country came a move to Nashville a few years back, where Tiffany has found a more welcoming music community that appreciates her for her craft over her fame. "As a pop artist, as a solo artist, it's very hard to have long-term friendships because you're stepping over each other and competing," she explains. "In Nashville, it's great to develop those friendships and those long-term relationships ... to know that people don't want to step over you to get ahead. They love music; they live music. They want the best for me, and I can fall trying new things. That's been a rarity in my life. That's probably why I was able to make such a great album. I had the ideas, I had the songs and the vision ... But I needed everyone to help me to accomplish it."
Nashville has also been a place where the former pop princess has had to prove herself, which she has certainly done with 'Rose Tattoo.' "People are always skeptical about Tiffany, in general, not just in country. 'Can she sing? What's she about?' That goes away when people see me perform. My fans have been awesome ... they've embraced it. They may have thought I was crazy, but they trust me to deliver good music. I think they are pleasantly surprised."