Tiffany isn’t like the other adult Trump children.
She was raised in California while her half-siblings grew up in New York. Rather than railing against her father’s critics on Twitter like Eric and Donald Jr., Tiffany supports her dad on social media more subtly. She hasn’t had any business dealings under FBI investigation like Ivanka and she was the only adult Trump child who wasn’t ordered to take mandatory training as part of a settlement in connection with a misuse of charity funds.
She’s also the only Trump kid to pursue a career in pop music.
Tiffany’s short-lived stint as a would-be pop star began in 2011 with the release of “Like a Bird.” The song never got a music video and never appeared on any Billboard charts. “Like a Bird” was supposed to be a soft launch. Tiffany’s focus was on school, not pop stardom, she said in an “Oprah” segment that aired days after the release, though music was her passion.
“It’s more of a hobby right now, but we’ll see in a couple years if I actually do want to take it to the next level,” she said.
Instead, the song was her first and last, and it would have likely passed from memory had her father not become president.
Tiffany Trump’s song “Like a Bird”
This is the story of an album that never came to be, a career that ended before it started, and Tiffany Trump, the first pop star first daughter of the United States.
Spreading her wings
Tiffany Ariana Trump was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, on October 13, 1993 to Donald Trump and Marla Maples. She was named after the jewelry company and shares a birthday with Marie Osmond. Mariah Carey’s “Dreamlover” was the No. 1 song in the country the day she was born.
Her parents were married two months later, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, but following their divorce in 1999, Maples moved to California where she raised Tiffany on her own. Tiffany went to school at Viewpoint, a private school in Calabasas attended by children of Hollywood stars and entertainment executives. A classmate of Tiffany’s who wrote an open letter to then-candidate Trump about the struggles of being undocumented in 2016 described Tiffany as kind and said she was teased about her dad when she was a new student.
Tiffany in the studio during her 2011 “Oprah” segment
“Like a Bird” came out Tiffany’s junior year of high school. At the time, pop was ascendant. Britney Spears had just scored her first No. 1 hit in more than a decade and Katy Perry was in the middle of a historic run of hits off Teenage Dream. Tiffany’s song didn’t match what was playing on the radio, though. It lacked a Max-Martin-style hook and big synth beats. Instead, it was trancey, dissonant, and a little bit sad, a song about escape and finding peace in a material world.
“Everybody’s partyin’ / obessin’ over crazy things,” Tiffany sang. “I just want serenity / while living it up.”
“Like a Bird” featured guest raps from two other artists, Sprite and Logic. Vincent “Logic” Pryce, who now goes by Nkoye Zifah, is from Antigua and he started making music in the early ‘00s. He was featured on the album #Zeitgeist21 by the group Sweetbox in 2013, and his music had caught the attention of Torsten Stenzel, a German EDM producer. Stenzel invited him to work on a project with Maples, and eventually Tiffany. To Zifah, “Like a Bird” is a song about being free.
“For me, what I got from it was like a fledgling, really, like a bird just starting to fly,” he told me. “Just doing you, even if it's something new. Just learning the ropes, but still stay true to yourself and just spreading your wings.”
Zifah never met Tiffany in person, but they emailed while she worked on her music. Stenzel traveled to California to record with Tiffany at a studio in Beverly Hills, and he would send music back to Zifah.
He sent “Like a Bird” and three other songs, Zifah said. One was a song titled “Alien” that was never released that he let me listen to. It has a Disney-pop sound to it with a chorus that included the lyrics, “This one’s for the aliens / This is for the people of planet Earth.”
A list of Tiffany’s songs posted by Sprite on Facebook
The other artist featured on Tiffany’s song, Sprite Steban Demari, was a friend and frequent collaborator. He had appeared in several pop music videos, including for Spears’ “Lucky” and Janet Jackson’s “All For You,” according to a Seventeen magazine clip he posted on Facebook. He had also worked on songs for Maples’ 2013 album The Endless.
In June 2015, Sprite posted a photo with Tiffany sitting at a piano in front of a list of song titles labeled “Tiffany Trump Tunes.” “Like a Bird” is on it, and there’s “Paranoia,” a song credited to Tiffany and Sprite uploaded to YouTube in 2016.
Tiffany Trump’s song “Paranoia”
The other songs on the list are “American Royalty,” “Cage of Love,” “Judgement Night,” “Crushing Angels,” “Step-N-Out 2Night,” “Way We Used 2B” and “The Beautiful.” It seems there was an entire album, but we only heard one piece of it.
Sprite died in June 2016, and in a tribute posted by Maples, she called him a “special soul” and “eternal friend.”
A pop stars’ hustle
There are some workplaces and industries where a famous last name can get you far, but pop isn’t necessarily one of them. For every Janet or Solange, there are countless other aspiring pop stars whose family connections weren’t enough to secure a record deal or any meaningful success.
While there are examples of well-off musicians who can fund their careers through family money overseas — like Kamaliya, the wife of a billionaire oligarch in Ukraine, or Emin, the son of a billionaire developer who helped facilitate Don Jr.’s infamous meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in 2016 — in America, it’s the pop stars with more compelling backstories that usually rise to the top.
A pop star’s pre-fame sacrifice and hustle is often central to her founding myth, and it’s possible that Tiffany could have had an origin story problem. Her backstory might have been that of the California Trump, a reality TV heiress trying to play Britney with dad’s money.
The official single art for “Like a Bird”
“Like a Bird” didn’t get much attention when it was first released, but critics were ruthless when reviewing it in 2016. Five years after it came out, the song received more attention than ever, with interest peaking in June 2016 for Tiffany’s RNC speech, according to Google Trends. Paper called it “spa music on cocaine” and the Cut described lyrics as “erotica written by a Twitter bot.”
The thing is, it’s rare that a pop star gets it right from the start. Many have early misfires and amateur recordings, including some they’d prefer the public not hear. Lady Gaga purchased several demos that had been released under her birth name, Stefani Germanotta, at auction for an undisclosed sum in 2010, and Christina Aguilera sued a New York record label in 2001 to try to keep a demo album she recorded from being released.
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Aguilera’s collection of demo recordings, called Just Be Free, did ultimately come out, but the album had to include a note from her. She noted that the album did “not in any way reflect my current musical taste and where I am as an artist” and said she hoped it would become “a footnote” in her career. Fourteen months later, she released Stripped.
So Tiffany, it turns out, was just doing what some of the biggest names in pop had done themselves, making music before they went pro.
The version of “Like a Bird” we know today wasn’t even the final version, it was a demo, Zifah said. “We didn’t even know they were going to release it,” he said. There is an unmixed quality to the song, almost like it was recorded underwater. It wasn’t finished.
It was Tiffany’s camp that decided to put the song out, Zifah said, and it was his understanding they wanted it to move “organically.” But other than the Oprah interview, there was no marketing or press for the song, and Tiffany’s pop career ended as quickly as it began.
But why give up after one song, and an unfinished demo no less? It was Zifah’s impression that Tiffany’s father, who spent 2011 flirting with a presidential run, didn’t want her to pursue a music career. “He didn’t think it was the right idea for her,” he said. Others close to Sprite said the whole idea of Tiffany the pop star was pushed more by him. A spokesperson from the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. Regardless, instead of chasing pop dreams, Tiffany went to school. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, and from Georgetown Law in May.
Today, “Like a Bird” isn’t available on iTunes or Spotify, but you can stream it on Soundcloud or buy it on Amazon Music for $.99. On YouTube, a video of the song has 1.4 million views.
Her own person
Before Tiffany, the closest America came to having a pop star first kid was Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter. Before her father took office, Davis dated Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon and co-wrote the song “I Wish You Peace” with him, which appeared on the band’s 1975 album One of These Nights.
Davis was a little bit of a rebel. She didn’t share her father’s politics and she called her mother’s anti-drug “Just Say No” campaign “a little simple.” In 1994, she appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine with the coverline “Ronald Reagan’s Renegade Daughter.”
Tiffany has never been as much of a renegade as Davis, and she’s been publicly supportive of her father’s presidency at times, retweeting his false claim about social media censorship in May, and being a scheduled speaker at the 2020 Republican National Convention. Still, she remains the Trump family member most likely to “join the resistance.”
In June, Tiffany posted a black square on Instagram along with the hashtag #justiceforgeorgefloyd, and she’s celebrated Pride even as her father’s administration ignored it. When Tiffany’s friend Andrew Warren posted a photo with her during Pride 2018, one Instagram user commented about the Trump administration’s stance on LGBT issues. Warren responded by writing, “isn't everyone their own person” with the hand emoji for stop.
At a benefit red carpet in 2010 with Sprite in tow, Maples explained art as a spiritual calling.
“Listen to your heart,” she said. “Stay true to yourself, don’t let anybody tell you that what you have isn’t special, because what you have is so individual, it’s like your God-divine right to share that with the world and the right people will find you at the right time, I’m sure of it, so stick to your art.”
Maybe pop was Tiffany’s art, but maybe it wasn’t — it’s hard to judge someone’s potential from a handful of songs they recorded when they were a teenager — but Tiffany is an artist. She’s posted her own art projects on Instagram Stories and she makes custom jewelry too. Her family prides themselves as builders and branders, but she’s a creator at heart.
She’s her own person.
Top image credit: Imagined Tiffany Trump album cover by Barbara Rego, photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images