I even have some stories of people telling me how that song has changed their life, how it got them through hard times, how it saved their life when they were on the verge of thinking of doing the worst. That just really amazes me, that that movie [Romeo + Juliet] and that part in the movie are still having a huge effect on people’s lives today.
I was on set [Romeo + Juliet] maybe an hour for two days. It was in this big cathedral in Mexico City. I just remember being up there in the balcony, and it was myself up front and there was a choir behind me. In front of me was this rail, like this cement rail, and I was like, “Oh my gosh!” Because I was a kid then, and I’m like, “We’re kinda high … I hope I don’t flip over,” because I’m very clumsy.
There’s a video that’s been floating around on YouTube where [Baz Luhrmann says], “We were looking for a guy that sounded like a young Stevie Wonder but much more we got a guy that sounded like a younger version of Aretha Franklin. His name’s Quindon Tarver.” I was just like, “Wow, to be compared to her.”
I just remember him [Baz Luhrmann] making me laugh, and his accent.
[Baz Luhrmann] is very serious – he wants it done and he wants it done accurately. He was in the studio actually when I recorded “Everybody’s Free.” I remember meeting him and him being amazed by my voice.
I had to perform in Dallas at the W Hotel. I was with my best friend, and I had walked on in to the area where I was meeting the crew. Then my best friend came in, and he’s like, “This girl at the front desk asked, ‘Is his name Quindon? I know him, he’s that guy from Romeo + Juliet, I’m one of his big fans.'” I was just like, how does she recognize me from then to now? I was wowed by that because here I am 34, it was 20 years ago, and how does she recognize me?
I started singing at the age of 4, at my grandfather’s church in McKinney, Texas. It was called Greater Hope Holiness Church. My first solo was “Jesus Loves Me.”
I guess they still show the movie in school, so around the time of movie showing, my Facebook inbox and my Instagram DM is flooded. “Are you the Quindon Tarver from the movie Romeo + Juliet? Oh my god, you did a great job.”
The story of the movie [Romeo + Juliet] is timeless. It’s relevant then.
[Romeo + Juliet] is relevant when Hamlet and all of that was out, when [William] Shakespeare wrote it. It’s relevant now. It’s not a shocker, but then it is. I guess so because I’m in it, so it’s shocking that it’s still on TV. People are still talking about it. Hey, I’m still getting royalty checks from it. It’s amazing to me and I hope it continues forever.
[Baz Luhrmann] is funny, to be quite honest with you.
I didn’t see that at all. I just saw everyone having a good time and everyone having fun [on set of Romeo + Juliet]. I didn’t see anyone having any spats or disagreements. If they did, they hid it very well. But as far as I saw, it was a positive vibe. It was positive energy.
I actually got to stay and watch the filming of different parts of the movie [Romeo+Juliet]. I got to meet some of the co-stars, like John Leguizamo.
I had met a lady there by the name of Laura Ziffren.She heard that I got signed to Virgin and reached out to my management company. They needed a kid to sing that part in the movie, and she remembered me, and her people reached out to my people, and I went and auditioned, and I got the part [in Romeo + Juliet].
I was 12, about to turn 13. [Laura Ziffren] pretty much knew she wanted to use me, so I just had to go and do the proper protocol and audition.
I’ve always been a fan and supporter of Prince. That’s one of my inspirations.
I kind of think that he [Prince] was pleased because he allowed [When Doves Cry] to be done.
I was really excited because I had never ever in my life done anything like this [Romeo + Juliette], and at such a young age it was like, “Wow, my dreams are coming true, I’m already in a movie at the age of 12.”
Everything going through my head was like, “Just last month or so, I was just flying into L.A. and things were just getting started with recording my album, and then here it is, wow, boom, here I am in a movie.” And then with Leonardo DiCaprio! The whole experience was cool and that moment was so epic for me.
[Leonardo DiCaprio] is so cool. He was one of the coolest, down-to-earth people that I think I’ve ever met. I’ve never experienced meeting someone like that, [who could] just be so cool and down-to-earth and welcoming.
[Leonardo DiCaprio] invited me into his dressing room, and then we went into his hotel room where we stayed. We shared caramel popcorn. I think that was the coolest thing, sharing popcorn with this movie star. And then we wrestled! I always share that story with people.
I still have so much gratitude for being part of something so great that is still around 20 years later, played in school and still getting the recognition that it gets. It is shocking, but then like I said, it’s timeless so it isn’t.