— by Farrah Weinstein
Támar Davis may be Prince's latest protégé, but the curly-haired songstress seemed destined for the spotlight long before the Minneapolis wonder discovered her. Back in the early '90s, the Houston native sang and danced with Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland in a group called Girls Tyme.
"Beyoncé and I were cool," the sultry singer told MTV News. "[But] then I did 'Star Search,' and I lost."
Her date with that particular Destiny didn't last, but another connection she made as a teen did: When she was about 14, Prince heard Támar (pronounced "Tay-mar") sing, and told her that "one day," when she was older, he wanted to hear her again.
A few years later, Prince called her into his Paisley Park studio. "He overheard a tape of mine and I got a chance to go to Paisley Park and I got a big tour [of the premises]," she said.
Nothing transpired from that visit, nor did she get to meet with Prince, so Támar went about doing her own thing, graduating from Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and then studying music business at University of Southern California, all while focusing on her musical career.
Támar — who also speaks French, German and Swahili — became part of an all-female jazz/funk band called Angaza (which means "to give light" in Swahili), who released an album called Light. At the time, she went by the name Ashley T'Amar Davis.
While living in Los Angeles, she snared an invite to one of Prince's house parties and introduced herself to him. He remembered meeting the saucy singer and asked her to audition for him on the spot, which she did. He then asked her to sing in a video he was working on.
Since then, Támar has joined the ranks of female artists Prince has mentored, including Sheila E., Sheena Easton, Apollonia, Carmen Electra and Martika. She signed with Universal Records the same day Prince did in December 2005. The label will release her Milk & Honey (produced by the singer and Prince), which hits stores on August 29.
Támar has been touring the country alongside Prince, helping to promote his album 3121 — on which she appears — on shows like "Saturday Night Live," "Good Morning America" and the Brit Awards, as well as his new video, "Fury," where she appears alongside fellow female singer/dancers the Twinz, two former "Australian Idol" contestants.
She is also a featured performer on 3121's "Beautiful, Loved and Blessed," and will most likely join Prince on tour.
"It's beyond a blessing to work with Prince," Támar wrote on her Web site. "I learn something from him every day to better my shows. Some people have no clue of what kind of heart he has. When he calls me his little sister, that's how he treats me. If I'm wrong on a note, or a step, or just late to rehearsal, I don't get a pampering lesson. His heart is pure in every way and he desires to see my desires come to pass."
Inspired by everyone from Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and AC/DC, Támar's album features soulful R&B songs like "Kept Woman" and "Sunday in the Park," upbeat dance-pop like "Holla & Shout" and rockers like "Redhead Stepchild."
If the songs seem at times personal, well, they are. "I can't write or sing anything without knowing the reason behind it," Davis wrote on her MySpace page. "Once that idea is established, I make sure to tell a story that allows the listener to visualize and experience the song with me."
And the singer says she has no regrets about missing out on the success of Destiny's Child.
"I wouldn't have been prepared two years ago — mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally — for anything," she said. "So, to be a part of it now — everything I fought for, everything I stayed up all night for, spending money on — it's paying off now."
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