Tamara Jade continues to make folks proud in her hometown of Bowie, Maryland.
Last week, the singer survived John Legend’s knockout round on NBC’s “The Voice.”
“I sang ‘Higher Ground’ by Stevie Wonder,” Jade told WTOP. “It was a really fun performance and a lot of people said they were inspired by it, which is really why I did it. I dedicated it to teachers and students. Virtual school has been kind of a mess, so just as a word of encouragement for people to keep pushing, keep going forward.”
Wonder was one of her favorites growing up in Prince George’s County.
“I don’t know anybody who didn’t listen to Stevie Wonder growing up,” Jade said. “Funk music is the fun soul. … I knew automatically I could bring my gospel roots into it.”
Her parents are both immigrants — her mother from Jamaica, her father from Guyana.
“My grandmother moved to Washington D.C. in 1970,” Jade said. “She came by herself with maybe $200 in her pocket and a coat her mother made for her. She worked in Fairfax first and then ended up in D.C. She’s been living in D.C. for like 40 years.”
Jade attended Suitland High School, excelling in its performing arts program.
“I’m a Prince George’s County baby from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade,” Jade said. “My mom went to Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts, my brother went to Baltimore School for the Performing Arts. We are all artistic and musicians.”
However, her success didn’t come overnight. This is her third time trying out for “The Voice.”
“Sometimes when you get a ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean ‘never,’ it just means ‘not right now,'” Jade said. “This particular time I’m in such a different place where I know who I am as an artist. … I know what I want to say and how I want to say it. … I had to send a video in … and I said, ‘This is the right time for a person like me to be on a show like this.'”
Her blind audition was a performance of Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You.”
“It was a pretty epic moment where I was able to have all four chairs, all four coaches turn around for me,” Jade said. “In the middle of a pandemic, we flew out to L.A. with a lot of restrictions, a lot of social distancing, we were quarantined for our first week. … As soon as cameras are done rolling, we’re back in our masks. … It’s still magical.”
She next performed “Hard Place” by H.E.R.
“The second one was our battle round,” Jade said. “I got to sing with Olivia Reyes, who is from New Jersey. It was really fun, but I would say ‘Higher Ground’ was my favorite performance so far. It was such a moment. I felt like a queen, I looked like a queen, I had a pin in my hair that said ‘queen,’ it was the moment I felt fully like myself.”
Along the way, she has appreciated Legend’s mentorship.
“A dream come true,” Jade said. “I saw him live at Madison Square Garden twice for his Legendary Christmas Tour [and] Darkness and Light Tour. One of my friends and big sisters in New York is one of his background singers, so I really was just going to support her. I had no idea I would see so much of myself in his show. … He’s so kind.”
After several weeks of pre-taped performances, Jade’s next performance will be live on Nov. 30 as part of the Top 20 competition. It all builds to the season finale on Dec. 15.
“You have not even begun to see energy and crazy yet, that’s all I can say,” Jade said. “Voting begins as soon as the episode starts, so even if I haven’t sung yet, you can go ahead and vote for me because I’m one of the home team members!”