Tamara Johnson-George (left) performs with fellow SWV member Leanne "Lelee" Lyons
|Birth name||Tamara Antrice Johnson|
|Also known as||Taj|
|Born||April 29, 1971|
|Origin||Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, United States|
|Genres||R&B, hip hop soul, dance, new jack swing, house|
|Associated acts||Sisters with Voices (SWV)|
The youngest of six children, Johnson-George was raised in Brooklyn. Her father died of pancreatic cancer when she was nine. Johnson-George grew up in an abusive household; her mother, who was sick with bone cancer, was beaten regularly by her drug-addicted stepfather. When Johnson would intervene on her mother's behalf, she was also beaten.
When Johnson-George was 14 years old, her mother died, which caused Johnson-George and her siblings to be parceled amongst several relatives; Johnson-George wound up with a cousin who molested her, adding to the sexual abuse she had experienced over the years with other male relatives. Johnson-George graduated high school, attended Baruch College to study accounting. However, she left college – as well as a physically abusive boyfriend - to join singing group Sisters With Voices, better known as SWV.
Johnson-George was recruited into SWV (then known as Female Edition) by Cheryl “Coko” Gamble, who would become SWV's lead singer. She was so shy that she auditioned with the lights turned off. Johnson-George was known for her bubbly, upbeat personality. This caused friction between Taj and Coko, who felt that Taj's cheerful demeanor shielded her from criticism from the press.
Originally, Johnson was both a singer and an emcee; she can be heard rapping the bridge over the original version of Right Here and I'm So Into You, and is the primary female performer on the song Blak Pudd'n. Johnson-George also co-wrote a number of SWV songs, including Right Here from their debut album, It's About Time, and You're the One, which also features Gamble as a co-writer. Johnson-George ceased rapping when New Beginning was released in 1996, shortly after the end of the new jack swing era, and began to sing leads (It's All About U, Give It Up) and co-leads (Lose My Cool, Use Your Heart).
Life after SWV
After SWV officially disbanded in 1997, Johnson-George was signed to a two-year contract with the Ford Modeling Agency. Shortly after this contract ended, Johnson-George began dating Tennessee Titan Eddie George, whom she'd met at a shopping mall in 1994. Johnson-George contributed to the anthology Souls of My Sisters: Black Women Break Their Silence, Tell Their Stories and Heal Their Spirits, which was published in 2000.
In 2002, Johnson-George enrolled in Belmont University in Nashville, earning a Bachelor's of Business Administration in May 2004. The following month, Johnson-George married Eddie George in Rockleigh, New Jersey. Their son, Eriq Michael, was born in 2005 after a difficult pregnancy that left Johnson-George bedridden for the first five months of her pregnancy. Johnson-George is also the stepmother of Eddie's first son, Jaire David, whom she refers to as her oldest son, and the godmother of Coko's oldest son, Jazz.
Along with Katrina Chambers, Johnson-George wrote the book Player hateHER: How to Avoid the Beat Down and Live in a Drama-Free World in 2007. That same year, Johnson-George and husband Eddie George starred in the reality TV show I Married a Baller, which depicted five weeks in the George household over a course of nine shows. The show focused on Johnson-George and her marriage to Eddie George, her struggle to lose her "baby weight," and performing with SWV, who came together to perform the theme song of the show. Baller also highlighted Visions with Infinite Possibilities, the Georges' not-for-profit charity for survivors of domestic violence and their children.
On March 7, 2012, Tamara Johnson's husband was present in the vehicle of then 21-year old professional golfer Rachel Connor when she was arrested for a DUI at 2 a.m. after a charity golf event held in Florida. In April of 2012 the home Tamara Johnson owned in Nashville was served a foreclosure notice due to non-payment. To address media speculation about her marriage, Johnson gave an explicative laden interview May of 2012, where she expressed her son was afraid his father was going to prison over the affair, and that her house had been on the market for several months prior to the scandal. After a bank negotiated settlement, the auction of Tamara Johnson's house was halted and she was allowed to remain in her home.
Johnson-George was recruited to Survivor after answering a casting call specifically looking for an NFL wife. Prior to casting, Johnson-George had never watched Survivor and could neither swim nor fish. However, she turned out to be one of the strongest competitors of the season, and came in second to James "J.T." Thomas, Jr in the fan favorite vote. Despite letting it be known that she was married to Eddie George, blowing up at her tribe mates and locking horns with Survivor host Jeff Probst, Johnson-George was one of only four Jalapao members (out of 8), as well as the only woman from her tribe, to make it to the merge. At the final episode Johnson-George was blindsided by her tribe and became the 6th member of the jury. In the end she voted for J.T., who won in a unanimous 7-0 vote.
- "Tamara's Story". Visions with Infinite Possibilities.
- episode #3 ("Road Trippin'"). I Married a Baller. "I was molested as a child. There was a cousin in the family, who would...who would make me do things."
- "Story: Taj". SoulTracks.com.
- "Lelee's MySpace page". "After several members and name changes, Cheryl knew a girl from Brooklyn named Tamara. Tamara was a cute Chinky eyed chocolate girl whom we all just grew to love. After a few rehearsals Tamara was in."
- "The WTF Comeback of SWV".
- Player hateHER. p. 69.
- "Melody Charles interview with SWV's Taj". August 7, 2008. "...Coko really loved [Player hateHER]; at the end, she actually apologized to me because she didn't realize how mean she was being in the early days that we would sing together. I was always considered 'the nice one', and the girls felt resentful toward me because they felt like 'no one ever complains about Taj and the things she does, she's not perfect!"
- "SWV's Music". SWV Online.
- "Eddie & Taj George". TCA INTV. 2007.
- "SWV's Tamara "Taj" Johnson". HHNLive.com.
- "Taj Gives Birth!". SWV Online.
- "The Longest Yard". The Nashville News. March 17, 2005.
- episode #3 ("Road Trippin'"). I Married a Baller. "I got my sons with me...my youngest is hyped. He's ready and excited, and my oldest is just excited to be on a bus."
- "Coko Talks About SWV Breakup". Yahoo! Music. July 21, 1999.
- episode #4 ("So High or Solo"). SWV Reunited.
- episode #7 ("California Dreamin'"). I Married a Baller. "I'm still trying to get my little 17-month-old son's weight off!"
- "Taj Johnson-George". Reality Blurred.
- "Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Tocantins': episode 5". Entertainment Weekly. "Word on the street: People like Taj and I can see why. She's coming across as a likable, hard working, and industrious player."
- "Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Tocantins': episode 7". Entertainment Weekly. "By the way - so many people got upset last week because I said Taj was 'second tier' smart. It had nothing to do with her being a woman, it had to do with the way she is playing the game."
- "Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Tocantins': episode 11". Entertainment Weekly. "Okay, I'll admit it. I had no idea Taj would be this well liked, even by me!...Taj is also smarter than I realized. She has mastered the art of staying out of the way."