Faith Renee Evans, June 10, 1973, in Lakeland, Florida.
Faith was born to an Italian-American father and an African-American mother. Her father, a musician, left the family when Faith was very young. She was raised in New Jersey by her her mother, Helene, who had Evans when she was 18, and an aunt. Evans began singing at church at age two and later sang in school musical productions. She was an honor student in high school and won a full scholarship to Fordham University. She dropped out after a year, however, to pursue a singing career.
At 19, Faith had a child named Chyna with musician and producer Kiyamma Griffin, whom she later split with. Griffin helped Evans get work as a session singer with Al B. Sure, through whom she met producer Sean "Diddy" Combs. Combs eventually signed Evans to his then-fledgling label Bad Boy Records. She co-wrote and sang backup on Mary J. Blige's My Life CD. At a Bad Boy photo shoot in 1994, Evans first met rapper the Notorious B.I.G. They married in August 1994, ten days after meeting.
She released her debut album, Faith, in the Fall of 1995. It became a hit and eventually sold over a million copies, based on the success of the songs "Soon as I Get Home", "You Used to Love Me" and "Ain't Nobody." During this time, Faith's husband became embroiled in a bi-coastal rap war with hip-hop artist/actor Tupac Shakur, aka 2Pac. During the feud, Shakur alleged he had slept with Evans while she and B.I.G. were separated, an accusation she has denied.
The B.I.G. Time:
Evans and B.I.G. had a son, Christopher Jr. or C.J., in late 1996. By then however, the couple's marriage had fallen apart due to the hip-hop rivalry and rumors of her husband's philandering. On March 8, 1997, Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace was murdered near a Soul Train Music Awards party in Los Angeles, a party that Evans herself also had attended earlier in the night. Devastated when she heard the news, Faith went through a deep state of depression.
A New Way:
After re-marrying and having a third child, a son named Joshua, Evans released her long-awaited follow-up, Keep the Faith, in 1998. Unlike the solemn approach to her first album, this album spoke of optimism, good times and love. In 2001, Evans released her third album, Faithfully, which included "You Gets No Love" and "I Love You." In order to help promote the album Evans, who had always been heavy-set, shed over 50 pounds and adopted a sexier image.
Peaks & Valleys:
Another bump in the road came in late-2004 when she and husband Todd Russaw were arrested for drug possession and driving under the influence. The couple were sentenced to three years' probation and paid a fine. She rebounded with her fourth album, The First Lady, which was released in April 2005, but was arrested again in August 2010 in the Los Angeles area for alleged drunk driving. A few weeks after this, in October 2010, her fifth studio album, Something About Faith, was released.
The Final Word:
"I don't look at myself as a celebrity. People recognize me, but it's all about my music, my songs. It's not like I'm a greater being. I take my kids to school, pick them up, go to the grocery store. I'm a mother, and my kids mean more to me than even being an artist." -- Faith Evans, 1998.