As someone who has sung about romance for 30 years, it’s easy to assume Canadian superstar Tamia, would be a sucker for Valentine's Day. But chatting with her during the month of love, the singer paints a different picture.
"Um," she pauses to chuckle. "I’m not really a person who goes for overt gestures of love on a special day. I'm kind of into overt gestures of love on a random day. Just spending time together is what’s important. I really don’t care what we do, as long as we’re together."
I’m talking to her ahead of her tour to South Africa, which is brought to Tshwane, Cape Town and Durban on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, by U-Live Africa and BreakOut.
"Expect to come and have a good time," Tamia says.
"I sing old songs, I sing new songs, I’ll sing all of your favourites. I hope people come with an open heart and let’s have fun together through music and reminisce."
Going down memory lane is expected for someone whose 1998 debut album became an institution celebrated as far as South Africa.
She has since given us hits like "So Into You," "Stranger In My House," Still, Me," "Beautiful Surprise," "Stuck with Me" and her latest album, "Passion Like Fire (2018)".
Her latest offering and the one before it, "Love Life," are albums that bring out a sensuality that hadn’t been heard from Tamia before.
Sex is a core theme on both albums, as is intimacy, monogamy and the joy that comes with maturity.
“Love Life was definitely grown-up and sexy,” Tamia said. “It was another level of love. Some things were more overt than other songs I’ve done in the past.”
Nowhere feels like a companion to It’s Yours, which appears on Passion Like Fire and starts: “Don’t sleep too hard/When I’m laying beside you/’Cause, baby, I might want some... of you.”
Tamia said. “That was The Dream,” she explains.
“He wrote and produced Nowhere - what a beautiful melody! Part of Passion Like Fire was to say I am still passionate about the music and what I’ve been doing for the past several years. But I was also saying whatever you do, you should do it with passion.”
Tamia has always presented a private persona.
Aside from the fact that she is married to one of the greatest basketball players, Grant Hill, she doesn’t willingly give away much about her home life. So it was surprising to see the couple appear on the Black Love documentary series where they share how they dealt with highs, lows and blows to their marriage. But it was even more surprising to see their wedding video be turned into a music video for the moving song Today I Do.
“The documentary was something we don’t normally do but it’s something we felt passionate about,” she said.
“What they were doing was so great that we felt that being vulnerable with that show was okay. We’re glad we shared.
“In terms of the music video, I was sceptical, but the song is so beautiful that it made complete sense to open up and dig out our wedding video. It was cute to watch it with our daughters and reminisce.”
Does she carry the responsibility of showing, through her songs, that monogamy does not equal monotony.
“I’m doing music that inspires and touches me. I definitely don’t think being married needs to be boring.”