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Tamar Braxton Talks 2014 Grammy Nominations, Career Obstacles & Marriage [Exclusive Interview]

Tamar Braxton
John Ricard, Getty Images

Tamar Braxton believed all her dreams had come true when she received three Soul Train Music Awards this year, but little did she know there were more on the way.

The ‘Love and War’ creator is nominated in three categories for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, airing next month. “I didn’t think it could be better than winning the Soul Train Awards, but now I also have the Grammy nominations,” she tells The Boombox jubilantly. “You know the cliché, ‘I’m happy to be nominated.’ Well, I am to be in the company of Rihanna, Fantasia, Miguel and so many other great artists I admire.”

She’s up against some pretty big names, but that doesn’t mean the singer doesn’t have her competitive spirit going. “Of course I want to win,” the 36-year-old admits. “But I’m already a winner being considered to be among the best in the world. I worked almost 20 years hoping this would happen and most of the time, I was just trying to get a record out, so Grammys seemed almost impossible. So I am going to be there looking fabulous and ready to party regardless of what happens. Even if I don’t win, I will always be proud to be a three-time Grammy nominee.”

Braxton is nominated for Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for the title tune of her ‘Love and War’ album, and she’s also up for Best Urban Contemporary Album. “I am so proud to be nominated for my songwriting, as well as my singing,” she says. “What a blessing!”

When she delivered a tear-filled acceptance speech at the Soul Train Awards earlier this month, she was reminded that she nearly gave up several times before realizing her dream due to many years of frustration.

“I never thought that I would be here and the only reason is that I almost gave up on myself,” Braxton told the crowd at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in New Orleans. “I’m 36 and I’m proud of it and I don’t give a damn if I was 56 years old.”

From being depressed singing background behind her sister, Toni Braxton, just a few years ago, now the blonde-haired beauty is proving she’s a star on her own. In addition to her professional success, she achieved a personal goal she’s been praying for, becoming a mother with the birth of her first child, son Logan Vincent, on June 6.

After ‘Love and War’ earned a No. 1 spot on the Billboard R&B /Hip-Hop Albums chart and successfully completing her first solo concert tour as the opening act for John Legend, the Maryland native and her husband-manager Vincent Herbert celebrated a joyous Christmas ever. She released her first holiday LP, ‘Winter Loversland,’ which also made Dec. 25 even more special. “The CD is about being in love and having fun and having all those great feelings you wanna have when it’s Christmas time, which is my favorite holiday. I am the Christmas Princess,” Braxton reveals.

To get in a festive mood, “Princess Tay-Tay” performed songs from ‘Winter Loversland’ in Los Angeles at the Universal City Walk tree lighting ceremony. She was in excellent voice despite battling vocal problems recently after rupturing two blood vessels in her throat. She admits she didn’t allow herself enough rest to heal her vocal chords, but she didn’t want to disappoint her “Tamartians” who bought tickets for her first concert tour.

Before 2014 hits, Braxton made history this year, setting the female record for the longest time between an initial chart listing and a first number one album. Her self-titled debut solo effort hit No. 1 on April 8, 2000. Thirteen years later, she hit No. 1 with her ‘Love and War.’ “I just can’t believe it,” she says. “This has been an amazing year and I never expected it. I feel honored and humbled and appreciative all at the same time.”

In addition to her music success, she’s never been in more demand as she’s starring in three TV shows: ‘Tamar and Vince,’ ‘Braxton Family Values,’ and co-hosting the talk show ‘The Real’ with four other hosts including Tamera Mowry-Housley.

After beginning her career as a member of the Braxtons singing group — they released one album, ‘So Many Ways,’ in 1996 — Braxton’s music career floundered for 17 years until dropping ‘Love and War’ this year. She watched her husband launch Lady Gaga’s career, but didn’t understand why he couldn’t make her a star also. Herbert told her she had to have patience. Finally, that patience is paying off. She also admits in the past she was not ready for success and not fully committed to working. “Now, I take it very seriously. I’m older, more mature,” she clarifies. ‘The One’ songstress is grateful, but also remembers she thought she’d be a star at the age of 18 — 18 years ago.

Five failed record deals and her confidence sagged, but her husband kept her believing in herself. Now that faith has been rewarded with three Grammy nominations and Soul Train Awards for Song of the Year, the Ashford & Simpson Songwriter’s Award for ‘Love and War,’ and Best R&B/Soul Female Artist.

As she accepted the trophy for Best R&B/Soul Female Artist, she was vulnerable and crying. This was not the egotistical, overconfident and sassy woman we’ve come to expect on reality TV. Her triumphant night even led to a peace offering from her nemesis, singer K. Michelle, who tweeted, “I’ll try this 1mo time. Congrats @tamarbraxtonher! We both been through hell fighting 4a dream. Let’s cut the s— and inspire.”

Just as K. Michelle rose to fame on reality television from her role on ‘Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,’ Braxton’s success is the culmination of the popularity she generated appearing in ‘Braxton Family Values.’ Her effervescent personality made her the breakout star, leading to her own show with her husband, ‘Tamar and Vince.’ On the show we’ve seen the joy and pain in her life, especially her struggle to become a mother. She publicly expressed her frustration trying to get pregnant. However, she also believed having a baby would ruin her career. “I was afraid I was not going to be able to realize my dreams of having a great singing career and touring because I was pregnant,” she states.

Three months before the release of ‘Love and War,’ Braxton gave birth and her baby was named after Brooke Logan, a character on one of her husband’s favorite TV shows, ‘The Bold and the Beautiful.’ “We both love it,” she said of herself and Herbert being parents to their son. “It was all about me all of these years, and now it’s all about Logan.”

As husband and wife who also work together, the couple constantly fight over their love and their career, which led to the title song on ‘Love and War.’ “The first single describes my marriage,” Braxton discloses. “We go to war for our love. We battle about our marriage and our careers. ‘Stay and Fight’ is another important song on the CD because to make your relationship work, you have to stay and fight for what you want and what you believe is right.”

Her fans love her bold personality. She’s opinionated, but she admits she wasn’t always that way. Due to abusive relationships, Braxton felt extremely shy and insecure before marrying Herbert in 2008. “I didn’t feel like I was beautiful,” she reveals. “I didn’t feel like people wanted to listen to me sing. I had low self-esteem. Now I am confident but it took a long time to be where I am now.”

She credits her husband with helping her to rebuild her self-confidence following two violent relationships. “He’s helped me with accepting what happened to me and to move onto to a happier place, where I am with him. I really appreciate him more and more every day.”

The destructive relationships and failed record deals are now a distant memory. “A lot of people don’t get second chances. I’ve had six chances and now it’s happening on my sixth record deal,” the beaming talent shares. “I knew I could sing but nobody really believed in me. But I had faith, and I thank God for that.”

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