Tiana Major9 loves jazz down to the core, as evidenced in her name. The major 9th is one of her favorite sounds — one that musicians will immediately recognize in the genre for the color and intensity it can add to any moment.
Born and raised in East London, specifically Newham, the R&B singer-songwriter bleeds music in all facets of her life. Drawing influences from her mother, aunt, and of course, Lauryn Hill, Tiana penned her own records with relatable lyrics audiences could resonate with. Her mantra is individuality and authenticity, serving as a role model for all aspiring black females to never fold and stay true to themselves.
While some singers aspired to be the all-star artists they looked up to, Tiana was busy studying music on her own. Raised in a Jamaican household, she fell in love with a melting pot of styles, from reggae to R&B to garage. The church was her safe haven to practice singing and performing in front of an audience.
While her dreams of attending The BRIT School, a well-respected British performing arts school located in the London Borough (Adele, King Krule, FKA Twigs), didn’t unfold as she desired — she quickly adapted. City and Islington College would give her the same education she was looking, proving there’s no right trajectory for success.
As with all things in life, everything happens for a reason. At the end of last year, she landed an explosive placement in the film Queen & Slim, with her smooth, sultry single “Collide” featuring EarthGang. The song’s official music video hails over 2.5 million views and counting in just a few months.
Flaunt Mag caught up with Tiana ahead of her showcase at No Vacancy, presented by Motown Records.
How does it feel to perform at No Vacancy with all these people who came out to see you? I couldn’t even get through the crowd!
Really? This is mad. It feels amazing to be here. Just to be far away from home to perform and have people come out and support you, it’s amazing.
Being from Newham, East London, what were you seeing growing up?
Newham is cool, it’s not like LA. [cuckles] There’s not much there, but it’s home.
Talk about your love for jazz & how it influences your career today.
Oh, jazz music is the heart and soul of my music. It’s the base of my music, literally. I used to listen to it while I sat and did my homework, it’d just be playing in my house! It’s always been around. When I started songwriting, it became more obvious that I loved jazz. It was one of my biggest influences because you can hear it in my melodies. When I decided to become an artist, I wanted a name that related to jazz so I added the Major9.
At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
I know when I took it seriously, when I put on my first show. I had a show and I was singing the song, I was singing “Mr. Mysterious” and the crowd was singing along! I stopped and said, “are you guys singing?” [chuckles] They’re like “yeah!!” It was crazy, I’m like “what the hell?” I had to start the whole song again.
Where were you working prior to getting signed?
I wasn’t working at all before I got signed. But a few years before, I was working at Urban Outfitters. I used to love Urban, then I quit. It took up time, because I was there four times a week! I didn’t have enough time to work on music or if I had a last minute gig, I wouldn’t be able to go because I’d have to sell my shift, etc. I just gave it up. I’m like “if I give it up, I have to go fully in all the way!” [claps]
How did you land at Motown?
My A&R Lindsey heard my music through a producer that I work with, his name’s PRGRSHN. She’s like “who’s this?” She got in contact with us and flew us out to LA, had a meeting. A few months passed and I didn’t think anything was going to happen because I’ve been in so many label meetings. She ended up giving us a contract like “okay cool, let’s do it!” I mean, there was a negotiating between that time but she was serious because she handed us the contract. A lot of labels, they like to talk but don’t do anything.
Did you think “Collide” would be what it is today?
I knew “Collide” would have an impact, but I didn’t realize how big of an impact it would have. There was no telling, I’ve never been in this position before. It’s doing so well.
What was it like seeing your song in Queen & Slim? Which was so impactful.
It’s crazy! I still can’t believe it. I need to see the movie again. [laughs] I’ve only seen it once, I feel like everyone’s seen it so many times. But it’s incredible. Motown did the Queen and Slim soundtrack, so that was one of the songs they wanted me on. I listened to it and I loved it, so I just said yes.
What was your reaction to being in Michelle Obama’s playlist?
Crazy… she knows my name! That’s Auntie. [chuckles]
Does Tiana have a man?
Mmm, no. I don’t have time for that.
Favorite person to follow on Instagram?
I really like Summer Walker.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
That you can actually do anything. Genuinely anything. As long as you rehearse, practice, and really hone in on your craft, you can do whatever.
3 things you need in the studio?
Water, weed, and good vibes.
Most played artist on your phone?
SiR. I love SiR! I like “New Sky.” I literally listen to Chasing Summer every day!