She recently starred in 2 Highly Rated SyFy Channel TV Movies (Mega Piranha & Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid), stars in a national commercial with Meatloaf, & appeared on the CBS TV shows "The Young & the Restless" & “How I Met Your Mother.”
Once upon a time in the 1980s, a little girl came to Nashville from her hometown of Norwalk, Calif., with dreams of becoming a country singer. She was raised on a steady diet of Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline, and by age 9 was performing their songs with her own band. The following year she was discovered by legendary country songwriters Hoyt and Mae Axton, and earned an invitation to perform in Music City on The Ralph Emery Show. Things didn’t work out as she’d hoped back then, but three years ago that same little girl—now all grown up, with a family of her own—returned to Nashville for good, determined to make her long-deferred dream come true.
A heck of a lot happened in between. Instead of finding a home in the country world, the teenage Tiffany instead became a pop superstar. She sold more than 15 million albums worldwide and scored hits like “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Could’ve Been” and “All This Time.” But she did so as her manager dictated the songs that she sang—none of which she had a hand in writing. “I’ve always had to fight to be me,” she says now. “I spent most of my career in the early days feeling like people thought I was manufactured, like I was a gimmick—but my voice was real.” Now Tiffany’s voice—literally and figuratively—can be heard at its finest on Rose Tattoo, her eighth studio album and the first to fully explore her country music roots. “It’s come full circle,” she says.
Tiffany took the long way around that circle, to be sure. Exploring opportunities as they arose: there were two critically acclaimed singer-songwriter albums, 2000’s The Color of Silence and 2007’s Just Me; a successful stint on the TV reality competition Hit Me Baby One More Time; and an acting career in projects like the recent tongue-in-cheek monster flick Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid (co-starring fellow ‘80s teen icon Debbie Gibson). Perhaps most significant was her foray into dance music, which yielded three hits on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Songs chart. But as pressure grew to build on her rapidly growing reputation as a dance diva, Tiffany remained determined to follow her heart to Nashville. “It was fun,” she says, “but that’s not my life.”
So three years ago, Tiffany, Elijah and her husband Benn George put down stakes in the Nashville area. “When I came to town I had black hair, so nobody recognized me,” says the famously red-tressed singer. “I went to songwriting showcases and just chilled and watched people. I took the temperature of the town.” She began writing with local songwriters and performing at low-key writers’-night events, gradually convincing local skeptics of her commitment to the genre. As she wrote the songs that would become Rose Tattoo, she reconnected with the reasons she loved country music in the first place. “Country artists are never bigger than their fans,” she explains. “My niche is writing about real life—experiences, heartbreak, seeing your child grow up, all of those real things that me and my fans are going through now.”
Finally, she felt confident enough to start work on a new album of her own. She discovered producer Chris Roberts through her friend and fellow singer-songwriter Lindsay Lawler (who duets on the album’s raucous “Crazy Girls”). The two set up shop at East Nashville’s Yackland Studio armed with some of the city’s finest musicians and a clear creative vision. “Chris and I talked about what I heard on every song, what the direction was,” she says. “It’s like Little Big Town meets Stevie Ray Vaughn with a little bit of Fleetwood Mac.”
Mix all that up and you have Rose Tattoo—a warm, buoyant album that finds Tiffany sounding entirely herself and entirely at home. This is music that is close to the heart, right down to the album title—a tribute to both the Rose Tattoo nightclub where she learned her craft onstage as a youngster, and to the actual rose tattoo she got as a rebellious teen. “He’s All Man” bursts with the joy of love, while “He Won’t Miss Me” addresses the pain of divorce; the aptly titled “Feel the Music” is a tribute to the power of song, and Tiffany shows a sultry side on come-hither cuts like “Love All Over You” and “Love You Good.” The buoyant “Just That Girl” is Tiffany’s clearest statement of principle yet, showcasing both her vulnerability and her strength—and her charmingly self-deprecating sense of humor. “I’m the girl that walks the red carpet with toilet paper on her shoe,” she says with a chuckle. “I look at other artists and everything’s so glossy and fabulous. I don’t know that life. I’m still trying to find my footing—in love, in business, in everything. I’ve learned to laugh about it and to be comfortable with myself.”
Throughout Rose Tattoo, Tiffany introduces herself to a new audience while showing longtime fans a side of her they may have never seen—and she’s just getting started. “I’m not going backwards,” she says. “I feel like I’ve really come into my own. This is my sound. This feels good, it feels like my home now. I wanted it to be home for so long, and now I’m not going anywhere.”