Just ahead of the 55th Grammy Awards this weekend (February 10th), R&B singer, author and television star Faith Evans pulls back the curtain on the voting process leading up to music’s biggest night.

Speaking exclusively with HipHopDX, Evans—who is also the Notorious B.I.G.’s widow—said that she wasn’t aware of how complex the Grammy voting process is until she began taking her National Academy Of Recording Arts And Sciences (The Recording Academy) membership “seriously.”

“Anyone can enter a song or album to be considered for Grammy nomination as long as it was released before certain dates of that year and it was a commercial release,” said the New Jersey native. “Having been in those rooms, we go back and forth to try and make sure we’re trying to be fair about how the nominations are spread in the categories but it’s still—beyond that room—there’s people out there that still vote.”

In a major Grammy Awards overhaul, The Recording Academy reduced the number of categories from 109 to 78 in 2012. The Classical, Roots, Rock and Rap genre fields were significantly affected, as well as R&B.

“They took out [R&B] categories so you have to put Chris Brown in a category with Betty Wright,” Faith explained. “There’s no male and female; there’s no contemporary versus traditional—only when it comes to performance. In the album category for R&B, it’s all lumped into the same thing. It’s so tricky talking about contemporary R&B because there are so many different types of R&B.”

Faith Evans has been nominated for six Grammy Awards during her 20-year recording career. In 1998, her collaboration with Diddy and 112 on The Notorious B.I.G. tribute “I’ll Be Missing You” won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance by Duo or Group. And while she participated in the voting process for the 2013 Grammys, she offers that outside politics may still determine the final nominees.

“To be honest, I do believe that there may be some politics somewhere down the line,” Faith said to DX. “You might see something that ends up winning that you never thought would be nominated. It is what it is. I could be wrong. Maybe there is no politics.”

She continued: “That’s the thing about the Grammys, it’s supposed to be about your peers acknowledging you, which is a great feeling. Sometimes the industry can be shady, so you don’t always see your favorite or the person that you feel deserves it. Sometimes you’ll see somebody get a Grammy years later way after you feel they deserve to have it. But that’s not a way to measure your success—by awards, nominations or record sales.”

Faith began her career in 1994 as the first female artist signed to Bad Boy Records—the label founded by Sean “Diddy” Combs—where she released three platinum-selling albums (Faith, Keep The Faith and Faithfully). In 2005 she released The First Lady on Capitol Records, as well as a Christmas album titled A Faithful Christmas. Her first book, Keep The Faith: A Memoir was released in 2008, followed by her Prolific Music/eOne Music debut, Something About Faith in 2010, and the 2012 premiere of “R&B Divas”—a TV One reality show in which she stars and co-executive produces.

Faith attributes some of the inspiration for her entrepreneurship to her early working relationship with Diddy. “I remember him saying, ‘I’m going to do this and I’m going to make Biggie that…,’” she recalled.

“To see [his plans] really happen, I think that certainly inspired the part of me that’s very undeterred. If this doesn’t work out, then we can do it again or try it somewhere else. I think that [‘Diddy’] certainly inspired that—the fact that you can do it. Just try it and make it happen. Believe in yourself, which sounds so cliche, but believe in what you want to do. Believe in your movement.”

Earlier in the day, Faith Evans was featured during iTunes’ “Meet The Musician” series held in the SOHO Apple Store (Manhattan). During the in-store event, she confirmed that she is beginning work on her next book, mulling the timing of a Gospel album, and spoke at length about her 2012 Prolific/eOne project, R&B Divas. R&B Divas features previously unreleased songs by Faith and fellow castmates Nicci Gilbert, Monifah, Syleena Johnson and Keke Wyatt.

Evans also performed three songs for the audience, one of which was R&B Divas lead single—“Tears Of Joy”—which she described as “good ole’ R&B music.” “When I say good ole’ R&B music, I mean soulful music,” she said. “You just know that feeling. Something about it just gets to your soul.”

“R&B Divas” airs every Monday at 10PM. The show’s second season is currently in production. The album, R&B Divas is available now on iTunes. Proceeds will be donated to the Whitney E. Houston Academy Of Creative and Performing Arts in East Orange, New Jersey.

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