It took Tamia three years to finish her sophomore album, A Nu Day, but now that the disc and the single "Stranger in My House" are making waves on the charts and radio, she says it was worth the wait.
"I had gone through like five different presidents at the record company, and they each came in and had a different idea of who they thought I was," said Tamia, who left Quincy Jones' Qwest label and moved to Elektra. "[I was] constantly scrapping music and they were trying to figure out who they wanted me to be."
With A Nu Day, which came out in October, "I knew what I wanted to talk about, what I wanted to sing about, and I got to directly work with the producers and vibe with them," she said, adding that she had more creative control on this album than on her self-titled 1998 debut.
"Stranger in My House," penned by producer Shep Crawford and #9 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles & Tracks chart, is one of several cuts on the album that delve into heartbreak, even though Tamia's now happily married to NBA star Grant Hill.
"We all have to kiss a few frogs before we find that prince," she said. "I think we get into relationships and we see things, whether it's because of lust or love or whatever, we see things ... and sometimes they aren't really how they are, but we see them for what we want them to be."
On the other hand, she included "Can't No Man" and a cover of DeBarge's 1983 hit "Love Me in a Special Way" on the album at the request of Hill, who worried that the album would be too "issue-heavy," she said. Tamia added that people sometimes assume the heartbreak or the romantic difficulties she sings about reflect her real life.
"We'd be in church, and everyone's staring at us," she said, laughing. "[Grant's] like, 'It's just a song, it's just a song.' So I put a couple love songs on there so that he'd feel comfortable, he didn't get evil stares."
Tamia said that, while she will always be grateful to Jones for helping launch her career she sang "You Put a Move on My Heart" on Jones' 1994 Q's Jook Joint she's thankful to be out from under his shadow. "I love Quincy ... [but] people never really got to know who I was."
While she was recording A Nu Day, Tamia guested on Eric Benét's "Spend My Life," a song that's become a fan favorite. During a Valentine's Day show in New York City, a fan proposed to his girlfriend while Tamia was singing it.
"That's an honor for me," she said. "I know how nervous he was and how special that day will be for both of them, so I felt blessed that I could be a part of that.
"It's nice to really connect with [fans] and not just be the girl that's on the videos," she added.
Tamia said she plans to release the "Stranger in My House" single on CD, with remixes by Thunderpuss and Jermaine Dupri.