Born in Waxahachie, Texas, Tevin Campbell had a passion for singing at a young age. He began by singing gospel, first as a choir member, and then as a soloist at Jacob's Chapel in a small town just south of Dallas, Texas. In 1988, a friend of Campbell's mother arranged for him to audition for jazz flutist Bobbi Humphrey by singing over the phone to her in New York. Humphrey took an interest in Campbell and submitted an audio and videotape to Warner Bros. This led to a meeting with Benny Medina, the Warner's senior vice president and general sales manager of black music.
Campbell was introduced to the R&B world by Quincy Jones in August 1989. Campbell's debut single was "Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)" which reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles chart in June 1990.
This was a vocal version of a 1976 instrumental by The Brothers Johnson. It was the lead single from Jones' critically acclaimed ensemble LP Back on the Block which won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1991.After working with Jones and writers and producers including Siedah Garrett,Campbell worked with producers Narada Michael Walden, Al B. Sure, Babyface, and others to record additional music.
Campbell's first solo hit was "Round and Round", which charted at #3 on R&B charts in November 1990 and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 1991 was produced by Prince and was featured in Prince's film Graffiti Bridge. The song earned Campbell a Grammy Award nomination at the 33rd Grammy Awards for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance but lost to Luther Vandross.
Campbell followed the success of his first two singles by releasing his debut album, T.E.V.I.N., in November 1991 which featured the R&B hit singles and Campbell's #1 R&B hit: "Tell Me What You Want Me to Do" followed by "Alone with You", and "Goodbye". T.E.V.I.N. reached #38 on Billboard 200 chart and #5 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album eventually was certified platinum by the RIAA for selling 1 million copies in the United States. T.E.V.I.N. earned Campbell a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the 35th Grammy Awards but lost to Al Jarreau.
Between interviews and television appearances following the release of T.E.V.I.N., he contributed to three special projects: Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, a Grammy Award-winning album produced by Mervyn Warren of Take 6; a Special Olympics Christmas album, featuring Campbell's rendition of "Oh Holy Night"; and Barcelona Gold, the 1992 Olympics album which includes his hit "One Song". The singer's second album, the 1993 release of the album I'm Ready, was also produced by Jones and Medina. "I wanted to make a more mature-sounding album to reflect my current state of mind," Campbell explained to J. R. Reynolds in Billboard magazine. "I'm Ready says a lot about who I am as a person because of the things I've been through during the last four years or so. I hope people will see that I'm not the same young kid that I was on my first album."
I'm Ready released October 1993, yielded the US top ten pop and #1 R&B hit "Can We Talk" in December 1993; "I'm Ready", a US top ten and top five R&B hit; and "Always in My Heart" which charted at the US Hot 100 top twenty and #3 on the R&B chart.
He also scored a Top 30 R&B hit with a fourth single, "Don't Say Goodbye Girl". The album was released on October 26, 1993 and went on to reach #18 on the Billboard 200 chart and #3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling 2 million copies in the United States. To date I'm Ready is Campbell's biggest selling album and many considered this album to be the high mark of his career despite the fact he was only 16 when he recorded the album. The album was nominated for 3 Grammy Awards: Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Can We Talk" at the 36th Grammy Awards, Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "I'm Ready" and Best R&B Album for I'm Ready both at the 37th Grammy Awards.
In September 1994, Campbell also scored an R&B hit with the single "U Will Know" as part of the R&B supergroup Black Men United, a group that also included singer Usher. In 1995, Campbell voiced Powerline in Disney's A Goofy Movie, performing the songs "I 2 I" and "Stand Out".
The year 1996 saw the release of his third album, Back to the World. The album reached #46 on the Billboard 200 chart and #11 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. In terms of sales, Back To The World was a disappointment compared to his first two albums T.E.V.I.N. and I'm Ready because it only reached Gold status. The album's first single,"Back To The Wolrd", reached #47 on the Billboard 200 chart and #14 on the R&B charts becoming a moderate hit. However, the other two singles didn't even reach the Hot 100, "I Got It Bad" and "Could You Learn To Love" only managed to reach the R&B charts with very low peak positions.
On February 23, 1999, Campbell released his self-titled album, Tevin Campbell, found Campbell venturing into the neo-soul venue. The project was rushed, and as a result charted below the R&B Top 30, with only a single charting, a Top 30 song called "Another Way".
In 2009, Campbell made an appearance at the 2009 BET Awards as he paid tribute to The O'Jays with Trey Songz, Tyrese, and Johnny Gill.
In May 2010, Campbell performed on The Mo'Nique Show. He said that many people wanted him to work again on music and is thinking about a comeback. In November 2010, he was featured on the remake of a song by Quincy Jones called "Secret Garden". The remake featured Usher, Robin Thicke, Tyrese Gibson, LL Cool J and Barry White. TVOne's show Life After featured Campbell's life and career, as well as updates on his comeback.
After his appearance in the 1990 film Graffiti Bridge, Campbell made a guest appearance the following year on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, playing fictional teen idol, "Little T", a celebrity crush and date of Ashley's in the first season episode, "Just Infatuation". In a later episode, he was referenced when Will threatened to destroy Ashley's Tevin Campbell posters after she plays with Will's autographed baseball. In 1995, Campbell voiced the character Powerline in Disney's A Goofy Movie, singing the songs "I 2 I" (Eye To Eye) and "Stand Out".
In 1999, Campbell made another guest appearance on the hit show Moesha alongside Brandy Norwood in the episode, "Rite Stuff".
He also appeared singing "The Closer I Get to You" with Brandy on the September 28, 1995 NY Undercover episode called "Digital Underground.Com".
Campbell played the role of Seaweed J. Stubbs in the Broadway musical Hairspray. He joined the cast in December 2005.Campbell reprised his role of Seaweed in the Broadway musical, Hairspray, in the Melbourne and Sydney productions in Australia
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