After easing through the lush, jazzy soul of the verses on her new single, a sensual re-imagining of the Deniece Williams classic “Free,” Tiffany Bynoe turns the song’s infectious hook into her personal mission statement when she sings: “I want to be free…and I just got to be me, yeah, me.” The title of the multi-talented singer-songwriter’s latest full-length album, Me, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The collection is a celebration of her multi-faceted essence as an artist, incorporating jazz, R&B, funk, house, gospel and world music. Tiffany’s latest musical venture proves a powerful foundation for a dynamic array of multi-media and entrepreneurial endeavors that solidify her brand as an inspirational author, speaker and business magnate with her own makeup line, magazine, string of boutiques and reality TV show.
The release of Me is the culmination of a steady stream of single releases for Tiffany since 2013, including “Blessed By The Best,” “Grateful” (featuring her legendary uncle, Howard Hewett), “It’s that Real R&B,” “Don’t Judge Me, Just Love Me” and “Seasons” which reached #30 on the Billboard Gospel Airplay songs chart. Tiffany will continue to release stylistically diverse projects that showcase her range of vocal skills while defying simple genre pigeonholing. In that way, she brilliantly represents the indie artists of today whose voices, literal and figurative, cannot be limited to singular creative boxes. “Traditionally, the music industry would call my music R&B and Jazz album,” she says. “I want to do away with genres and call it simply, Love Music.”
A seasoned performer by the time she was 16, Tiffany competed and won Amateur Night three times at the famed Apollo Theatre in NYC. By her early 20s, she had obtained a major recording contract and had a hit record climbing the chart under the stage name Tene Williams. She appeared on Soul Train and toured during the New Jack Swing era with H-Town, SWV, Jade and Big Daddy Kane. Just as fame was beckoning, she met her husband, songwriter-producer Kyle Bynoe and the two started a family. She had a hit record and all the trappings of success, she felt empty inside. Her marriage and decision to have children caused major problems with her record label. She lost money in a bad management deal. The couple decided to take a break from the music business and refocused their lives on their family and ministry. For Tiffany, that meant working with young women who battle self-esteem issues.
These difficult and challenging, but ultimately triumphant, experiences and transitions are at the core of Tiffany’s compelling, inspirational new book Ugly Duckling No More, set for release in spring 2018. The title comes from the singer’s difficult memories of “awkward teen years (that) lasted forever.” She was teased because she was very skinny and she experienced the worst type of acne and eczema imaginable. “When I entered a room,” she writes, “I didn’t want to be seen; fearful that everyone would focus on my imperfections. So many times, I heard people say, ‘She sings good…but she doesn’t look like a singer.’”
The engrossing and powerful story details the incredible challenges she faced to not only launch her career, but sustain it when she had her daughter Gabby, who was born with Dextracardia – a debilitating heart disease where the heart is reversed with 2 holes. Tiffany will embark on a book tour and workshop series that details her journey from young woman to where she is now. Ugly Duckling No More is also a movement that she is starting – and everything that follows is attached to the thread of this movement. In addition to her foundation and her music, every part of what she does is connected back to the foundation of her story told in her book, and her current story begins where the book is leaving off…
In the book, she writes about the impact of her daughter’s birth defect on her and Kyle: “My pity party was officially over and I had to summon the strength that only God can provide. Apollo Theatre, Soul Train, New Jack Swing Tour or even a short melody meant nothing to me. My husband and I became steadfast warriors for God – praying consistently for our baby girl. Spending sleepless nights at the Cleveland Clinic – preparing for Gabby’s next operation, Kyle and I met other parents at the hospital. We spoke to parents that were waiting for a heart transplant for their child. Our baby had a heart that was being repaired – but these parents were waiting for an available heart for their child to live. At that moment – our problems seemed so small. Kyle and I prayed for that family – with the same intensity as for our own daughter. Our level of compassion tripled that night and I our ability to find gratitude in the seemingly insignificant details of the day increased. Our perception of life shifted considerably. Gabby’s issues lasted for 12 years but now she is living life to the fullest and we could not be prouder of her.”
Gabby’s life and illness is the inspiration for Gabby’s Heart Foundation, which Tiffany has created in honor of her daughter. She and her partners have designed heart pendants for necklaces and charm bracelets that will be sold by a large retail jeweler – with proceeds going towards helping with heart education and research. The concept and marketing approach is similar to Jane Seymour’s Open Heart Collection. Kay/Jared has expressed interest in Tiffany’s collection, and she has connected with various organizations, including the United Way and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
In addition to the Ugly Duckling No More concept, Tiffany will also be branding her “40 and Fabulous” moniker as an umbrella for a variety of enterprises. As a media center for her brands, her 40 and Fabulous magazine will feature articles written by notable names that will discuss current and relevant topics and issues designed to teach men and women. It will have a bit of a different spin from the average culture-driven monthly publication, reflecting another aspect of life and, coinciding with where Tiffany is currently on her own journey, drawing in style and fashion with health and spiritual awareness topics.
In partnership with a well-established real estate developer, Tiffany will have her chain of 40 and Fabulous boutiques housed in new real estate projects across the United States. The boutiques will take her brand direct to the retail consumer, featuring Ugly Duckling Apparel, make-up, her book, and accessories with brand partners. Events hosted in these boutiques will include performances by young touring musical artists. When you enter one of her boutiques, patrons will “experience” music, fashion and a boost to their “style” as well as their personal esteem.
Beyond products and brick and mortal establishments, Tiffany will be spearheading two unique creative communities as reach-outs to people who want to connect with her as an artist and multi-faceted cultural influencer. “Dreams in Jar” will be a journaling aspect/activity that she will invite others to participate in. Connecting with her personal story of perseverance and the emergence from “Ugly Duckling” to “Swan,” she will write her dreams down on slips of paper and place them in a jar as a shout out to the Universe that one day these dreams will be actualized. She will demonstrate how speaking one’s dreams (or writing them down) can lead to actualization, using her own personal journey of faith.
Tiffany’s other concept “The Pond” is similar to her contemporaries in the music world who give their fan communities colorful names. For example, Beyonce’s retail apparel brand “Ivy Park” is not only the name for the clothes but a collective community that endorses the brand and its lifestyle. “The Pond” will be the digital social community for Tiffany’s “Ugly Ducklings” – where those who are engaged in her journey and subscribe to her music, fashion and lifestyle will congregate and support initiatives whether retail or proactive in action for positive statements Tiffany will forge for young people.
Tiffany is also expanding her budding multi-media empire into the realm of television, starring in several reality TV pilots, including “Ask Mama” featuring Tiffany, Donavan McNabb’s mother, and Shaquille O’Neal’s mother. The show is based on these mothers of different generations whose children are athletes and their challenges, ongoing knowledge, and methods of dealing with their offspring in sports. Not the usual talk show, this will fill another niche that has not been addressed on any reality series to date. This series will showcase Tiffany’s devotion as a mother of three. She also has another pilot offering an exclusive behind the scenes look at the development and marketing of her brand.
“My growth from an insecure girl with a dream of singing, morphed into achieving that goal – only to discover that my life has so many other dreams and aspirations,” Tiffany says. “I became a woman and I realized that there were many more factors to that simple dream of long ago. I realized that I love everything that is included in the entertainment field like acting, singing, creating make up, and perfume lines. Throughout this journey, I have come to realize that I am not only a woman, a mom, a wife, and even a grandmother – but I am a woman who is forever evolving. True love is my message and that’s who God is, so I believe that even when I sing love songs, I’m still spreading and doing what I’m called to do.”