Photo: Revolt Media
  /  01.14.2020


Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’

Tina Farris went from being a constant fixture at The Roots’ California shows in the 1990s to traveling around the world as their tour manager. She’s spent 20 years helping D’ Angelo, Syd from The Internet, Jill Scott, Solange and a myriad of others mold their legacies. You’re pretty important when the title, “Tour manager of the Neo-Soul movement,” is both accurate and aggrandizing.

“The Roots were the first band that toured like that. So, because we were the hub of the Neo-Soul movement, we spawned people like Jill and Erykah [Badu],” Farris told REVOLT. “Different people of that movement utilized our band format for their band format, and thus, they used our whole squad as an example of how to tour.

In this installment of “Tour Tales,” The Roots longtime tour manager explains traveling around Italy by boat with Solange, touring with the group for 90% of every year, and what she hopes changes about the touring business this decade.

How did you get your foot with The Roots?

I was a groupie. I used to follow them around and watch them play instruments. I was just a fan. First, they came to my school, UCLA. Sometimes, I’d get a couple of friends and drive to San Diego, Sacramento, or somewhere in the California area to see them.

What was it like going from fan to a member of the tour?

It took a while. We’re talking about probably a span of five years of me watching them live. I met them when I was in college when I was 20, 21. Then, from there, I was a school teacher and I had summer and spring breaks off. So, I went to go hang out with them for their European tour (back in 1999). I became friends with their tour manager… who was also a female, her name is Toya Day. I just hung out with her, learned what she did, and helped her out here and there. So, by the time I was ready to go back teaching school, they were like, ‘Oh, you should just stay.’ I wanted to either run for superintendent at Compton High School or do something that made a change in how the school district was being run. [The Roots] came in at a time when it was getting heated and parents were threatening me. Students were threatening me because I was young and wild, and trying to make changes that were different than what the status quo was. So, I chose to go with The Roots.

What was that first show like with them in 1999?

I had to learn how to set up Questlove’s drum kit. I used to carry guitars. I was the roadie. I did everything. It was only myself and a guy named Kelo Saunders, who’s a world-renowned front of house sound guy. We were the whole crew.

The Roots were known for touring 90% of the year. How did that affect you?

I had to be used to being the only girl on a tour bus full of guys and basically being in a rolling locker room. It was very hectic. It was awful at first. So, some of the things I incorporated in touring would be sightseeing or doing something fun. We used to all play video games, play with electric cars, or we’d go to amusement parks. I learned how to play golf on tour. I learned how to surf on tour.

What was the first tour where you felt like you were good at tour managing?

I probably didn’t think that until after I did the Black Eyed Peas. It was ten years in. I became The Roots’ tour manager, then I became Jill Scott’s tour manager, and then Queen Latifah’s tour manager. But, those were all out of necessity. The Roots were the first band that toured like that. So, because we were the hub of the Neo-Soul movement, we spawned people like Jill and Erykah [Badu]. Different people of that movement utilized our band format for their band format, and thus, they used our whole squad as an example of how to tour. So, I became a tour manager of others out of necessity. I teach a class at Berklee [College of Music] on tour managing and I get good because of how many failures I’ve had.

When were moments that you solved problems at shows?

There was this one time The Black Eyed Peas were flying private. We were in Mexico City (in October 2010), and I saw the pilot at the show. I said, ‘What are you doing here? We’re about to leave.’ They were like, ‘No, you’re leaving tomorrow night.’ One of the things in the industry is you leave on a redeye and you get there the next day. But, you have to say 11:59 the night before for people to realize which night you’re talking about. It’s a weird thing. So, they thought I was talking about the next night. I had to cajole them into getting on the flight with us. They have rules. They have to sleep for a certain amount of hours, so I was like, ‘Oh shoot, we’re not going to get out of here, but we have a show the next day.’ I was working with them to put it together. I was in a separate car from the band, so they couldn’t hear me putting it together. I had all the vehicles slow down to get there (laughs). I was like, ‘Oh my god. The pilot got sick. They’re going to be here. They’re just running a little late.’


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by NOMADS Magazine (@nomadsmagazine) on

You saw artists like Jill Scott perform in their prime. What were those shows like?

Those shows were amazing. Jill had command of her voice and sings with her band. First time I met Jill was at Black Lilly at Wetlands in New York. I watched her in her eyes — in her face — for most of the show. She was like, ‘Thank you for giving me that energy, sis. Thank you for making eye contact.’ I don’t think anyone says that anymore (laughs).

I’m going to name a few artists you’ve tour managed and I want you to give me their biggest tour hits. The Roots


Jill Scott?

‘It’s Love’ is big because of that go-go beat. She goes hard on it. Also, [‘He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat’)].

You’ve also worked on D’Angelo’s ‘Voodoo Tour’ in 2000 and his ‘The Second Coming Tour’ in 2015. What was the difference between the two?

We’ve changed some of the band. We didn’t necessarily have security. There were some things we lightened up on. There wasn’t the big fanfare of Voodoo. But, the background vocals and size of the band stayed the same. He’s very much music-oriented. So, he didn’t slack on that.

What are some of the biggest signs of fan dedication that you’ve seen?

There’s this guy Angelo Colonna. He’s this Italian guy who comes to all the shows of all the artists I do. We have the same taste in music. We never go to his part of Italy, but he always comes to see The Roots, The Internet, Steve Lacy, Anderson .Paak, or whomever (laughs). He and his wife always roll up. It’s kind of dope. I also have a couple of Fergie fans that I’m still friends with (laughs). They live in Brazil, Columbia, and Mexico City.


View this post on Instagram



A post shared by tinafarristours (@tinafarristours) on

You were in Venice with Solange when she debuted a unique musical performance titled ‘Nothing To Prove, Nothing To Say.’ How was it putting that together?

It was amazing. It was very challenging. We did everything by boat. It was dope. She had the ambition and creative foresight to see it put out as an art installation. It’s one of the dopes things I’ve done as a tour manager. Producing is producing. If I need transportation, I find transportation. Sometimes transportation is a bus, sometimes it’s a plane. In this instance, it was boats. So, you find out what the system is in the city. There are people who lived there before you. So, they already have a system in place. You just have to tap into it.

You tour managed The Internet as a group, but also Syd as a solo artist on her ‘Always Never Home Tour’ in 2017. How did she adjust to touring by herself?

She adjusted. It was probably a little bit more freedom and being able to just worry about herself. She’s a leader and a big sister. She has a tendency to lead everyone. So, it was nice to see her be able to relax and discover herself as the performer.

With 20 years of experience, what are some tips you’ve given less experienced bands such as The Internet?

I think everybody starts off cheap in the beginning. They’re frugal, and they don’t take care of themselves and their bodies. You get what you pay for and touring is hard. So, you have to take care of yourself when you tour. So, that may mean extra comfort on a plane or getting in the night before, so you can rest. What makes a successful tour is if the artist goes and performs, and then makes it out alive. That’s success. So, we do what we can to preserve their energy and themselves, so they can get on that stage. It’s hard. Syd was touring with men most of the time. As a woman, [on her solo tour] I could stock the bus with tampons now instead of beer because now somebody’s thinking about that.


View this post on Instagram


#tbt who I’m talking bout though @sydinternet? #afropunk #thatdudeintheback @simplyeartha #beingatourmanagerislike

A post shared by tinafarristours (@tinafarristours) on

You’ve worked with numerous legendary artists. Is there any personality trait or habit common among them?

Everybody has a certain amount of performance anxiety. All of these people are very brave to put their heart and soul out to be judged. They believe in themselves hard and heavy. The people that pay attention to details and rehearse more, to me, are the geniuses because those people care.

How has the business of touring changed over the last 20 years?

Cellphones and navigation. While I guess that has made it easier to get around, it makes people a lot dumber when they need a plan B. To me, production is always plan B and plan C. That’s probably where I knock heads with people. When it doesn’t go perfectly, people are into finger-pointing versus being solution-oriented. This generation that deals with apps don’t know how to dial it back if something goes awry. Trying to bridge that gap all the time is difficult. If you never learned how to read a map, then you don’t know how to go anywhere.

What is something you hope to see change with touring?

I’d like it to not be contingent upon doing an arena tour, so you could make a bajillion dollars. That’s why I’m touring on the continent of Africa. People deserve to see their artist in intimate settings, really perform and really give it all they got rather than in a giant stadium where you’re still watching it on a TV screen.




View More



View More


Walmart has everything you need for the tech enthusiast on your shopping list

Check out our gift guide that highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds in time for Black Friday.

  /  11.10.2023

Walmart has the home essentials for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.

  /  11.24.2023

5 things you need to know about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards

“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.

  /  11.20.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicks off at Central State University

On Oct. 10, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University.

  /  11.14.2023

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour visited Mississippi Valley State University

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour made its final stop at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and left a lasting impact on students and alumni alike.

  /  11.22.2023

Walmart continues HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour during lively Virginia State University stop

After unveiling their state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University, Walmart brought the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to Virginia State University (VSU) on Oct. 13.

  /  11.14.2023

Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour brings attention and wisdom to North Carolina Central University

On Oct. 17, Walmart brought the third stop of the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

  /  11.15.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicked off at Central State University

In October, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University. The HBCU located in Wilberforce, OH was the first stop on Walmart’s Black and Unlimited HBCU Tour.

  /  11.28.2023

Groovey Lew on hip hop style, Johnell Young's industry secrets, BGS salon's wig mastery and more | 'Black Girl Stuff'

Fashion King Groovey Lew on masterminding hip-hop’s most iconic looks. Actor Johnell Young reveals the secret to breaking into the entertainment industry. Celebrity hairstylist Dontay Savoy and got2B ambassador Tokyo Stylez are in the BGS Salon with the perfect wig install. Plus, comedian Lauren Knight performs.

  /  11.15.2023

Pheelz talks expressing himself through music & his biggest inspirations | 'On In 5'

On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!

  /  07.11.2023

Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'

On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!

  /  07.10.2023

Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'

On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.

  /  07.12.2023

BNXN talks leaving IT for music, linking with Wizkid, going viral & new album | 'On In 5'

For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!

  /  08.08.2023

From city lots to lush gardens: The power of urban farming with Karen Washington

This is the inspiring story of Karen Washington, a pioneering urban farmer who has been revolutionizing urban spaces by transforming them into vibrant community gardens and educational hubs. Sponsored by State Farm.

  /  11.17.2023

Investing in stocks in a recession | 'Maconomics'

Host Ross Mac provides useful advice for preparing your personal finances in the event of a recession. He emphasizes the importance of budgeting properly, building an emergency fund, and maintaining discipline when investing.

  /  11.21.2023

Madam DA Fani Willis proclaims, “A lie has been told on African American men”

“Every time I’m in trouble, it’s been Black men that have come to my aid,” Madam DA Fani Willis said at REVOLT WORLD while speaking on the stereotype that they are not dependable or worth dating.

  /  10.11.2023

Lauren London sparks conversation on how Black parents unintentionally give kids negative outlook on money

At the live taping of “Assets Over Liabilities” at REVOLT WORLD, Lauren London opened up about how witnessing the financial decisions adults made during her childhood fueled her outlook on money. 

  /  10.26.2023

Black media leaders stress the space's importance because we're always antagonists in mainstream's storytelling

“I definitely feel those ‘heavier is the crown’ moments. But I also believe that Black entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to be successful in the future,” Detavio Samuels said at AfroTech.

  /  11.03.2023

Machel Montano opens up about life as a child star, new music, and exciting business moves

In an exclusive interview with REVOLT, Machel Montano dove into his musical journey, childhood stardom, and an exciting new chapter in business.

  /  11.03.2023

Halftime Report | Professional athletes who've dropped rap albums

From Master P to Chris Webber, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Deion Sanders, Damian Lillard and more, these athletes got bars. Check out our list here!

  /  11.01.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes