A soulful, Canadian-born R&B singer and songwriter, Tamia got an early start in the music industry singing "You Put a Move on My Heart," the first single from Quincy Jones' 1994 hit album Q's Jook Joint, when she was only a teenager. The song earned a Grammy nomination and paved the way for her 1998 self-titled debut. She followed with several successful albums for Elektra, including 2000's A Nu Day, and 2004's More. Along the way, she scored hits like "Imagination," "So Into You," and "Stranger in My House," the latter of which hit number three on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and number one on the Dance Club Songs chart. In 2012, she earned her fifth and sixth Grammy nominations for her album Beautiful Surprise.
Born Tamia Marilyn Washington, in Windsor, Ontario in 1975, Tamia became interested in performing at a young age. As a child, she took acting and singing lessons, eventually appearing in a number of local choirs and theatrical presentations. She soon earned a reputation and several awards, including the YTV Vocal Achievement Award in 1993. The following year, she won the Steve Ross Music Scholarship at the American Academy of Achievement's Annual Salute to Excellence in 1994. That same year, she attended a party her manager Brenda Richie held for Luther Vandross. At that party, she met Quincy Jones, who was soon taken with Tamia's talent.
By the end of the year, she had sung "You Put a Move on My Heart" for Jones' new album, Q's Jook Joint. The song became a Top Ten R&B hit and earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance; another song on the album, a duet with Babyface entitled "Slow Jams," was nominated for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. She also sang "Missing You" with Brandy, Gladys Knight, and Chaka Khan on the soundtrack for the 1995 film Set It Off. "Missing You" was also nominated for a Grammy, making for a total of three nominations for Tamia before she had even released an album.
Such exposure, plus nominations from the NAACP Image Awards and the Soul Train Music Awards, made Tamia a hot commodity in the music industry. She carefully crafted her debut album over the course of 1996 and 1997, taking time out to play a small role in Speed II: Cruise Control in 1997; she also sang "Make Tonight Beautiful" for the soundtrack. Tamia finally released her debut album, Tamia, in April 1998. The album boasted an impressive list of collaborators and producers, including Jermaine Dupri, Keith Crouch, Tim Kelly and Bob Robinson, Stevie J., Mario Winans, and Quincy Jones. It peaked at number 18 on Billboard's R&B chart. The following year, she married longtime professional basketball player Grant Hill, and officially changed her name to Tamia Hill.
In 2000, newly signed to Elektra, Tamia released her second album, A Nu Day, featuring production collaborations from Missy Elliott, Dallas Austin, and Shep Crawford. The single "Stranger in My House" became a surprise Top Ten Hot 100 hit, which helped push the album into the Top Ten of the R&B chart. More (Elektra, 2004) and Between Friends (Image Entertainment, 2006) maintained the streak of Top Ten R&B albums. Also during this period, Tamia was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and began undergoing treatment for the disease. She has since gone into remission, but continues take medical injections to manage her symptoms.
In 2012, Tamia issued Beautiful Surprise on her own Plus One label. The title-track single was nominated for a Grammy award in the category of Best R&B Song and led to a recording contract with the Def Jam label. Love Life followed in 2015, and was preceded by "Sandwich and a Soda," a collaboration with Andrew "Pop" Wansel and Warren "Oak" Felder. In 2018, she returned with her seventh studio album, Passion Like Fire, which featured production and songwriting contributions from longtime associates Shep Crawford, Lil Ronnie, and Salaam Remi. Included on the album was the single "Leave It Smokin'," which peaked at number two on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Andy Kellman