The former teen star behind the sultry, 90’s hit single “Can We Talk” stepped into the hot seat for an in-depth interview discussing his life, career and how the music industry has changed over time. Campbell also disclosed his personal experiences a gay man in the music industry during the 90s.
“I refer to myself as a former child star because that’s just what I am,” Campbell shared on the podcast about his musical past.
The now 45-year-old artist was discovered by famed talent manager Benny Medina at the tender age of 12 years old and was later guided by his mentor Quincy Jones, who instantly recognized him as “the next Michael Jackson.” Jones affectionately referred to him as such for his charming personality, smooth voice and impressive vocal range.
Campbell noted that Jones’ comparison came with a great deal of pressure.
“I just kind of wanted to be me, you know?” Campbell said.
Campbell has recently received newfound stardom from the younger generation as his hit “Can We Talk” saw a resurgence thanks to the popular TikTok singing challenge.
“I had no idea at the time, like when I was 15 or 16 recording this song that it would have that impact,” Campbell shared of the song’s discovery. “I was just a kid singing in the studio.”
The singer goes on to share how it was to come up in the times of a heteronormative R&B industry
“I didn’t hide anything about me. I didn’t try to act a certain way or anything,” Campbell disclosed. “You just couldn’t be [gay] back then.”
He goes on to share how he opened up to his friends and family.
“When I came out to my family and friends [at] about 19 or 20, that was it for me. And then I went on the road of discovering myself. I didn’t know who I was,” Campbell said.
Campbell stepped away from the industry for awhile. He credits his personal growth to the six years he gave to the Broadway musical Hairspray beginning in 2004.
“Being around people who were like me, LGBTQ+ people that were living normal lives and had partners. I had never seen that,” Campbell mentions. “That was a great time in my life.”
Fans have speculated Campbell’s sexuality for many years, but he has managed to keep his private life virtually private. This year he did respond to one fan’s question on Twitter asking about the famed singer’s sexuality.
He confirmed the rumors sying, “Tevin is…” with a rainbow emoji.
In the podcast episode, Campbell shares that his sexuality was casual to him and that he didn’t view it as a big “coming out” statement.
“I love my fans,” Campbell shares. “But what they think about my sexuality is of no importance to me.”
Listen to the full episode of People’s “Every Day” podcast here.