Life on the road is not for the faint at heart, yet Tina Farris has managed to make it look easy by juggling a hefty load complete with rained out stadiums, declined credit cards, strip searches, sexist promoters, antagonistic customs officers, demanding wives and everything in between. A veteran tour manager, Tina heads up some of the biggest music tours, handling even the tiniest of details to ensure that things go off without a hitch.
Since being invited to join the touring family of the Legendary Roots Crew back in 1999, Tina hasn’t looked back, amassing a client list that has included some of music’s hottest acts including Lil’ Wayne, Fergie, The Black Eyed Peas, Nicki Minaj, Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Maxwell, and Mayer Hawthorne just to name a few. A quick look at some of the most successful tours in the past six years would reveal that Tina’s straight-no-chaser approach was at the helm of many of them. After her humble beginnings, she managed the highest grossing tour in the history of Hip Hop, Lil’ Wayne’s AMERICA’S MOST WANTED TOUR. The following year, she hit the road with The Black Eyed Peas, guiding the group through 15 countries, 76 cities and 99 sold out shows before 1.3 million attendees, grossing more than $86 million dollars along the way. In 2011, she rejoined Lil’ Wayne when he and Nicki Minaj headed out on the I AM STILL MUSIC TOUR. Currently, she’s using her masterful skills to guide the elusive D’Angelo during his critically-acclaimed comeback run in Europe and the United States. She is also one of the co-producers for The Roots’ annual Jam Session during GRAMMY week. Since its inception in 2005, The Jam Session has become one of the most coveted tickets every year during awards season.
It doesn’t take much to see that Tina’s ability to reach across genres while managing tours of all sizes gets results. No task has proven too big or too small for her undertaking as she works behind the scenes to ensure that each night when her clients hit the stage, things go off without a hitch. Her ability to iron out even the most minute details, while also diplomatically leading her clients through unexpected snafus and the occasional political unrest has made her one of the industry’s most successful touring experts.
“It’s definitely not easy work, but it’s so rewarding watching everything come together from my viewpoint,” she says. “There are times we barely pull it together but nothing beats that feeling when the artist hits the stage and everything works out.”
Her capacity for rolling with the punches and creating her own lane is what has led her down her unique career path in the first place. While many adjectives could be used to describe Tina---determined, unapologetic, astute and intrepid, just to name a few---one word that won’t be used to describe her any time soon is conventional.
Prior to entering the music business, Tina’s life seemed to heading in a more traditional direction. After graduating from UCLA, she went on to teach high school in both Sacramento and Compton. However, the pull of music was too strong to resist and at the age of 28, she soon found herself working with one of her favorite musical acts, The Roots.
Despite her more typical beginnings, Tina never doubted that the music industry was where she belonged. After all, her grandfather legendary Motown Producer Harvey Fuqua exposed her to the industry at an early age. “I used to meet my grandfather on the road. Never around a Christmas tree or at Thanksgiving dinner, “ she recalls. “[It’d be] backstage at a casino, always with Smokey Robinson or one of the Gordy brothers or Sylvester.”
In addition to getting a firsthand view of the ins-and-outs of the entertainment business, Tina was also faced with navigating a world primarily dominated by men. While it has certainly been challenging, the area that provided the greatest adjustment for her was admittedly in the area of relationships. Little did she grasp how much her fast-paced schedule would affect her dating life. Though she noticed that many of her male counterparts were able to maintain relationships while on the road, finding a mate who was able to adapt to her constant travelling proved more complex for successful women like herself.
Although she contends that the double standard is far from fair, she has also come to realize that it is a reality for other high achieving women like herself. Rather than view her single status as a setback, Tina hopes to use her unique perspective on love and relationships to empower other women. “There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are single and over 40,” she emphasizes. “There is nothing wrong with wanting the white picket fence fantasy, just like there is nothing wrong with not wanting it. I want to let women know that there are various ways to enjoy life.”
Following her own philosophy, Tina makes it a point to enjoy everything that life throws her way. An avid linguist who is fluent in three languages, she continues to cultivate her love of traveling and exploring, including enjoying the ability to date both abroad and at home. In spite of her nuanced view, Tina still is hopeful there is a special someone out there who can celebrate her busy lifestyle. “I tell people all the time, you sound like a crazy person to me if you think that I’m supposed to do nothing with my life. I’m out here living, getting to travel the globe and get a front row seat to some of the best live shows out there. If its meant to happen for me, then it will happen. But I won’t make any apologies for my life. I am extremely blessed and I want to help other women feel the same way.”