On June 10, 1973, Faith Evans was born in Lakeland, FL. She grew up to become a multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning R&B artist. A fixture in the late 1990s hip hop scene, she was the first female artist to sign with Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs’ label, Bad Boy Records. After marrying Christopher Wallace, better known as The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls, she was at the center of the 1990s East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry. Both Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur were both murdered as a result of the conflict. Evans channeled the pain over the loss of Biggie into multiple hit records and a memoir. Celebrating her 45th birthday today, she has made it her mission to carry on Biggie’s legacy, while also pursuing her own career as an artist, producer and songwriter.
The daughter of an absentee father and a struggling young mother, Evans grew up in Newark, NJ with her aunt and uncle. At three years old, she performed for the first time at church. Evans toured with a gospel group at age 14. Although she attended Fordham University with a full scholarship in 1991, Evans dropped out after her first year to move to Los Angeles with her music producer boyfriend, with whom she had her first child. The relationship quickly fell apart and Evans moved back to Newark.
She began working as a background singer for R&B artists in a New York City recording studio. That is where she was noticed by the up-and-coming music producer, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. In 1994, Evans became the “First Lady” of Bad Boy Records as the first female artist to sign with the label. At a photo shoot that summer, she met Notorious B.I.G., and within a week, they got hitched, putting Evans at the center of perhaps the most intense rivalry in hip-hop history.
Evans released her 1995 platinum-debut album, “Faith,” with the singles “You Used To Love Me” and “Soon As I Get Home.” After Notorious B.I.G. was murdered on March 9, 1997, Evans dealt with the loss by collaborating with Combs to record the tribute song, “I’ll Be Missing You.” The song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance By A Duo or Group. In 1998, she released her second studio album, “Keep the Faith,” that she wrote and produced almost entirely herself. The album generated two top ten singles, “Love Like This” and “All Night Long.” Other successful albums, including 2001’s “Faithfully” and 2005’s “The First Lady,” have kept Evans on the charts and the radio.
Evans has successfully made a name for herself, independent of her Bad Boy/Notorious B.I.G. days. However, she remains dedicated to keeping her late husband’s memory and music alive. A year ago, she released “The King and I,” an album of duets with herself and Notorious B.I.G. as well as other rappers, including Snoop Dogg.