Born Tyrese Gibson on December 30, 1978. Addresses: Record company--RCA Records, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY, 10036-4098. Website--Tyrese Official Website: http://www.tyrese.com.
Tyrese has touched the full entertainment spectrum, having modeled, released albums, acted in films and commercials, and hosted a television show, all before the age of 22. Despite his multiple interests and talents, singing is most important to the Los Angeles, California, native. "Singing was and still is my first love, and it opened the doors for me in all of the other show business-related things that I do," he said in an RCA Records biography. Tyrese's musical endeavors have led to popular success and recognition. Following the release of his self-titled debut album in 1998, Tyrese won an American Music Award for Favorite New Artist-Soul/R&B in 2000. He released his sophomore effort, 2000 Watts, to favorable reviews in 2001.
Tyrese Gibson grew up with his mother, Priscilla Murray, and three siblings in the impoverished Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. His father, Tyrone Gibson, left the family when Tyrese was six years old. Instead of succumbing to the ills of crime-infested streets, Tyrese decided to battle his way out of his neighborhood to improve the standard of living for himself and his family. "It wasn't easy and I had to watch my back all of the time, but I always believed in myself, and that I could make it out of there," he said in his RCA biography. The Gibson household was often filled with the sounds of Stevie Wonder, Jodeci, Donny Hathaway, and Marvin Gaye. Those vocalists and groups inspired Tyrese to sing, something that at first he considered a hobby.
In 1995, however, that hobby turned into a career. Tyrese answered an advertisement that was posted at his high school, Los Angeles' Locke High School, stating that an advertising firm was looking for an African American male, age 16 to 18, for a Coca-Cola commercial. Unable to get a ride to the audition, Tyrese was forced to take the bus, which caused him to be two-and-a-half hours late for his appointment. Luckily, the director was held up in the same traffic. Despite the delay, the budding entertainer got the part.
Tyrese's brief appearance as a headphone-clad singer in the commercial led to a bidding war among 20 major record labels. He eventually signed to RCA and released his self-titled debut in 1998. Tyrese spawned the hits "Sweet Lady" and "Lately" and hit the platinum sales mark in 1999. In addition to earning an American Music Award for Favorite New Artist-Soul/R&B and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male R&B Performance as a singer, Tyrese was tapped for acting roles and modeling jobs for big-name outfitters Guess? and Tommy Hilfiger. During a promotional appearance on MTV for Tyrese, he met the producers of MTV Jams, who hired him as the show's host along with DJ Skribble. As host, Tyrese was responsible for interviewing guests, introducing videos, and entertaining the small audiences chosen to appear on the show. To celebrate the success of his singing, modeling, and television careers, Tyrese bought his mother a lakefront home east of Los Angeles as a Mother's Day gift in 1998.
Tyrese's career possibilities continued to broaden. He made special appearances on the television shows Martin, Moesha, and Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, as well as the MTV movie Love Song. In 1999, Tyrese auditioned for the part of the lead character Jody in director John Singleton's then-forthcoming film Baby Boy, a movie originally set to star Tupac Shakur. When the rapper was killed in 1996 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Singleton temporarily shelved the project. Singleton told the Associated Press that Tyrese was a natural for the lead in the film. "He hadn't had them (the scripts) in advance and he just started doing the character. I was so excited. I saw the character right there. Here I am writing about the streets of Los Angeles and he just read it off the page. He just got it." To prepare for the film, Tyrese left the music business for six months to study full time with an acting coach.
After beating out rapper Eve and rap/soul trio 702 to win the American Music Award for Favorite New Artist Soul/R&B, Tyrese returned to the studio to record what would become his sophomore album, 2000 Watts. Although Tyrese co-wrote most of the songs, he recruited top-notch producers and writers to help him hone his skills, including Damon Thomas (whose credits include work with Babyface and Dru Hill), Harvey Mason Jr., Babyface himself, Diane Warren, Rodney Jerkins, and Jermaine Dupri. "When you want the best songs, you get the best producers to work with you," Tyrese said in an RCA biography. In recording the album, it was Tyrese's goal to strive for longevity. He did not want a flash-in-the-pan, one-hit album. "There's something about R&B oldies that you can play 'em today and they still sound good and make you feel good. That's what I'm trying to get back in touch with on this album, and I just hope people are going to enjoy it not just for the moment, but for many years from now," he said in the biography.
On 2000 Watts, Tyrese offers seductive lyrics ("I Like Them Girls"), dance grooves ("Off The Heazy" and "I Ain't the One") and a smooth ballad that the singer wrote in response to a woman who broke up with him after he admittedly cheated on her ("I'm Sorry"). Billboard said that the album "knocks the sophomore-jinx concept on its ear" with a collection "chock-full of strong, radio-friendly tracks." The album reached number four on the magazine's R&B charts. The same year, Tyrese formed the 2000 Watts Foundation, an organization he created to allow inner city children to better themselves. A portion of the proceeds from the album 2000 Watts are designated to fund the building of a state-of-the-art community center in Watts, Tyrese's former Los Angeles neighborhood.
The year 2001 proved to be a busy one for Tyrese. In addition to the release of 2000 Watts on May 22, 2001, the soundtrack to the film Baby Boy, released the same year, included the single "Just a Baby Boy," which featured Tyrese, rapper Snoop Dogg, and newcomer Mr. Tan. The record marked the first hip-hop/R&B soundtrack released by Universal Records. In July of 2001, Tyrese appeared as a contestant on a celebrity version of ABC's Who Wants to be a Millionaire television game show.
To Tyrese, his career has been a blessing. "Reaching this point in my career is something I'm really grateful about," he said in his record company biography. "I also know that I couldn't be where I am without the help, support and love of my family, friends, fans, and most of all, God."
by Christina Fuoco
Model, actor, singer, 1990s-; released debut album for RCA, Tyrese, 1998; released follow-up, 2000 Watts, 2001.
American Music Award, Favorite New Artist-Soul/R&B, 2000.
- Selected discography
- Tyrese , RCA, 1998.
- 2000 Watts , RCA, 2001.
- (Contributor) Baby Boy (soundtrack), UNI/Varese, 2001.
August 12, 2005: Tyrese starred in Four Brothers, which was released by Paramount Pictures. Source: New York Times, http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=323029, August 19, 2005.
January 27, 2006: Tyrese starred in Annapolis, which was released by Touchstone Pictures. Source: New York Times, http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=313246, February 1, 2006.
June 23, 2006: Tyrese starred in Waist Deep, which was released by Rogue Pictures. Source: New York Times, http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=334029, July 9, 2006.
- Boston Herald, June 29, 2001.
- Essence, July 2001.
- Jet, June 25, 2001.
- Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, June 27, 2001.
- Naples Daily News, June 29, 2001.
- New York Post, July 1, 2001.
- Pacific News (San Francisco, CA), May 26, 1999.
- People, November 13, 2000; June 30, 2001; July 2, 2001.
- Us, July 16, 2001.
- Associated Press, http://elections.excite.com/news/ap/010627/12/wkd-tyrese (July 25, 2001).
- Billboard, http://www.billboard.com (July 25, 2001).
- VH1, http://www.vh1.com/thewire/content/reviews/1444280.jhtml (July 25, 2001).
- Vibe, http://www.vibe.com/new/vibewire/20010501/news02.html (July 25, 2001).
- Additional information was provided by publicity materials from RCA Records, 2001.