The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

June 15, 2012

Return to roots: Tiffany finally gets chance to sing the way she always wanted

JOPLIN, Mo. — Tiffany is finally used to the dark around her Tennessee home. Far from the bright lights of Los Angeles, the first few nights at her country home close to the Kentucky border were kind of scary.

"The first few nights, it was so 'I Am Legend.' It felt like the end of the world," she said.

She feels quite at home now, these days. Living only a few miles from Nashville, the '80s teen icon known for her mall tours and her remake of a song by Tommy James and the Shondells has settled in with a new life dedicated to singing and songwriting -- and performing the country music that attracted her to singing as a child.

But she hasn't stopped touring. Tiffany will perform two nights of concerts at Landreth Park during Dogs in Downtown.

Each night will be a different show: Tonight's concert will features her music from the '80s, including the multi-platinum "I Think We're Alone Now," "Could've Been," "All This Time" and more. Saturday's concert will feature her performing her later work with a live band, including songs from her first country release, "Rose Tattoo."

Tiffany is used to performing multiple styles in her show, she said. Friday's and Saturday's shows are an extension of that.

"It's awesome to have a career that stretches over 25 years," Tiffany said. "I'm known for the '80s, and as I've kept going, I've done dance, country and a lot of ballads ... It's about a musical journey and where I've come from."

Country roots

Country was Tiffany's first musical love as a child, because it was the only music played in her family's house.

"I grew up listening to country," Tiffany said. "Tammy Wynette, Crystal Gale, Loretta Lynne, Tanya Tucker, Emmylou Harris. Especially Emmylou, she spoke to me."

After being discovered by Hoyt and Mae Axton, her family moved from Norwalk, Calif., to Nashvile, before she was a teen. She sang songs by those legendary artists with her own band and eventually landed a performance on the Ralph Emery show.

But the venture did end like she thought. Eventually, her family moved back to California.

That's when pop music found her. Producer George Tobin found her in 1984 from a demo tape; in 1985 she finished in second place on "Star Search," and released her first, self-titled album in 1987.

The rest is history: She embarked on "The Beautiful You: Celebrating the Good Life Shopping Mall Tour" in 1987 and saw "I Think We're Alone Now" earn multi-platinum sales.

From that high came a low: She got stuck in a conflict between Tobin and her mother and stepfather that led to her to try and emancipate herself as a minor. The follow-up albums never charted as high, and the music machine declared her career officially "stalled." Future albums were labeled as "comebacks."

"I kinda hated that thing, where it got called a 'comeback,'" Tiffany siad. "It's like they were asking, 'Where have I been?' But I never stopped."

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