80's pop star Tiffany sets up shop in East Nashville
In Nashville 1980s pop sensation Tiffany Darwish is remaking a name for herself! This long-time LGBT ally is recording two albums—a Christmas project, as well as a new album of her own that she’s co-producing—as well as preparing to tour and running her vintage and designer clothing store, Tiffany’s Boutique, in East Nashville.
Tiffany has a long, and perhaps surprising, history in Nashville. “I started coming here when I was ten,” she said. “I came here with Hoyt Axton and Mae Axton, doing country at the time. I wanted to be a country singer and they brought me here. I did a lot of the shows, like the Ralph Emery Show and on and on.”
This initial foray into Nashville was ultimately unsuccessful. “I was singing songs like [Loretta Lynn’s] ‘Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad,’ and it was actually Ralph Emery who said, ‘Don’t you think at ten, it’s kind of a risky song to be singing?’ I was only ten so I had no idea what to say to that! But it didn’t work out for me. They were interested in the vocals, but I think it was a little disturbing that I had such a big voice, and I was this little girl. I don’t think they knew how to market that.”
Back in Los Angeles, Tiffany kept singing at every opportunity, and when she was fourteen it was decided that she would record another demo. “That’s when George Tobin saw me in the studio,” she recalled. “He said, ‘I don’t know anything about country music, but I know everything about pop music, and I’d like to take you in a pop direction.’ That started everything. All my hopes and dreams completely changed.”
Tiffany’s pop career was turbulent. Her cover of "I Think We're Alone Now" was a chart-topping success, and the album of which it was a part sold over four million copies. But her work in the 1990s failed to generate similar interest. Her personal life suffered, as conflict between her manager Tobin and her mother and stepfather boiled over, leading to an emancipation trial.
Throughout her career, Tiffany has appeared at Pride events, and she said she felt like maybe that part of her life came through her music and helped her connect with LGBT fans. “I had people come up to me and say, ‘Your songs really helped me through a dark time.’ … Maybe there was a kind of magic between us—with all the family drama I was going through and the court case—but even though I was on the cover of all these magazines, I felt alone too. Maybe that touched something with them.”
“I came to Nashville again in the early 1990s. I was pretty burned out in Los Angeles,” Tiffany said. “I really wanted to grow as an artist, and I didn’t feel supported in Los Angeles. I was a new mom, so life was changing as well. And so I felt like I wanted to go to Nashville and try living here this time. So my now-ex-husband and I kind of packed up a truck and came down here.
I also wanted to become a songwriter,” she added, “and I knew this was the place to do it. You know, if you really want to learn the craft, Nashville is the place. But they don’t just welcome you with open arms, you have to prove yourself. And I think I failed the first time I was here miserably. My name got me in all these wonderful writing sessions, but I just wasn’t ready. I used to cry after some of these sessions… But after all of that, when I ended up going back to Los Angeles and writing The Color of Silence album, it was like all those hardships and all those experiences led to that. The Color of Silence was a critically acclaimed record, and it got me acknowledged as a songwriter.”
I came back to Nashville finally, and this time I’ve been here for seven years. This is it; we’re here. I tell my son he’s gonna bury me in the back yard, this is it!” she joked. But clearly she’s setting down roots, recording new work here and establishing her own small business.
Tiffany’s Boutique grew out of a hobby. “I’m shopaholic,” she said proudly. “I don’t want therapy, I want to shop. My attachment to clothes is kind of sick because I’m always like, ‘It’s so sad, I need this.’ And they’re like, ‘Girl, you don’t even fit into that.’ But I’m like, ‘Somebody will!’ So I started collecting designer pieces, and vintage pieces. Back in Los Angeles a lot of my stylist friends would borrow pieces and they told me I really ought to think of doing a shop because I have a great eye.”
“So I opened this place because I love working with real women. I’ve always been accessible to my fans and enjoy talking to them … just bonding with them. Over the years, we’ve talked about weight issues, seeing yourself getting older, seeing yourself in a rut. I want this to be a place they can come and hang out, unwind, and shop, and also get good advice from other girls. We also try to keep it affordable—we want you to look good in whatever outfit we put together, and we want you to be able to actually take it home!”
So far Tiffany has worked mostly with designers from East Nashville, though designers from across the country are showing interest in getting their products into the Nashville market. “I’m excited to be able to bring new stuff from all over back to Nashville,” she said. “I wanted to work exclusively with East Nashville designers for a while, but it’s kind of gotten bigger, so why not?”
Tiffany is also busy with the album she’s currently writing and co-producing. “It’s going to be more ballads than I’ve maybe done in the past, since maybe the first couple of the records. I’m still fighting that battle of people not knowing that I can sing … so I really want to do something that is going to set me apart in that arena and help me be recognized as vocalist.” When asked to describe the album, Tiffany said, “Think John Mayer –a little more bluesy adult contemporary—but make that a little jazzy, but it’s not a jazz album.
Slated for release in February, the album will be funded via crowdfunding through PledgeMusic.com. “It’s something totally new to me,” she explained. “We’re starting this and giving the fans an opportunity to be in the studio with me—they aren’t there in the writing process because that’s awkward—but they’ll see me going into a writing session, or get updates from me.” I love that because they’re right away involved. There will be tons of video uploads.”
For more new music, be on the lookout for her Christmas project this holiday season: “It’s a compilation project,’ she said, “so it’s myself and people like Thelma Houston. I haven’t done a lot of Christmas singles or projects, so I’m thrilled. I’m singing ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Let It Snow.’ They really wanted an up-tempo version of ‘Let It Snow,’ and it’s about the fastest version I’ve ever heard!”
Up-to-date information on Tiffany’s new music and touring can be found at tiffanytunes.com.