You may remember chocolate-toned songstress “Trenyce” from Season 2 of American Idol [she was 5th runner up]. Ten years later, the singer is still on her grind and ready for the world to get to know the real Trenyce and hear some new music. The American Idol finalist talked exclusively with CarltonJordan.com about her controversial exit from the show, her opinion on NIcki Minaj and Mariah Carey as judges, her love life, and her latest venture - Thriller Live - which is a musical concert dedicated to Michael Jackson on London’s West End.
CJ.COM: You were part of American Idol from it’s beginning stages, what are your thoughts on the show now?
Trenyce: My participation on the show was during the time they were still trying to figure out what they wanted from us, the show, and the judges. It was the first and second season that was considered the “trial” runs. I specifically remember it being hard to get certain songs cleared because back in that time, no artist, producer or label took it seriously. It was considered “that popcorn show that was TRYING to be Star Search”. Yeah, we took all of the bullets. LOL!
CJ.COM: What were your most memorable experiences during your time on Idol? Who were your BFF’s while taping?
Trenyce: There were sooooo many! There was the day when we all moved into the house and we got packed into these vans and just started going up, and up, and up, the hills and we realized we were being taken to a Hollywood Hills mansion. We jumped out of the vans and ran up and down that house like kids in a candy store!
None of us had ever been inside a home that big! The pool was huge, you could see the entire city of LA from any window in the house and we all knew we were blessed to have such a privilege. We had a lot of moments. We shared a lot of our first experiences with each other, so the bond between us all will always be there. I love them all. They are my family for life. While taping I would say I was closest to Julia Demato and Kim Caldwell. We encouraged each other, had girl talks and kept each other in line. I was as if we were not in competition with each other at all…we championed each other! And out of the guys, Ricky was my best friend! I could tell him anything and he was that sensitive soul I looked to. Such a sweetheart.
CJ.COM: Do you feel the current Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey beef distracts viewers from the core of the show this year?
Trenyce: I think that the beef was something that should have been between those two women. They are both successful artists coming together to show the younger and less seasoned how to act, sing, and perform and it’s like a married couple…some fights are not meant for the kids to see. I also think that the viewers are now tuning in even more just to see what happens, simply because we live in a world now that loves a bit of chaos, drama and confrontation and if you can get a celeb to go off that’s even better…Personally, I don’t think it was necessary to sensationalize. Let them have their “moments” privately if there is something to work out.
CJ.COM: A recent lawsuit was filed against 9 former American Idol contestants claiming AI is racist? Do you agree with any parts of their claims? Did you experience any of that while u were on?
Trenyce: It saddened me to hear that really…I was asked to be a part of it due to the way I was treated on the show but I couldn’t lump myself with these contestants simply because their stories were not the same as mine.
When you sign up for Idol, you have to give full disclosure and if they don’t agree with your background then they could clearly let you go or choose not to have you appear on the show. I never feel like “racism” should never be put into an equation such as this, simply because I don’t think you can prove it. If they just so happen to pick 10 contestants, 5 are black and they all had a past then that is just coincidence, it’s not “racial”. I don’t for a second think that the claim should have been about race. And no I never experienced “racism”. What I found weird or odd was once I didn’t agree with signing the contract “as is” that my “expunged” record from when I was a teenager was “leaked” to the public and my chances on the show were compromised as well as my career. I didn’t get how my case was closed and then somehow came out on the show with mugshot included….
…I had made my mistake, paid dearly for it, and moved on…even fully disclosing to the producers what happened even when I didn’t really have to and even told them how I wanted to USE the situation in my story to help some others out there believe in second chances…but, it was still used against me. I was very angry for years about that, simply because if I went back into the “real world” I would never work again based on the fact that you could google that image…forget a background check! What I learned from it all is that, at some point…we have to forgive ourselves! Whatever you did, accept it and move on. If I ever have the chance to sit down with Simon or Nigel again I would ask a few questions and say a few things but it would not be publicly…An eye for an eye is not my style.
CJ.COM: Throughout all the American Idol Seasons, who has been your male/female Idol crush?
Trenyce: I can’t say I’ve had a crush on the idols…but I actually had a crush on Ryan Seacrest when I first met him. I don’t think I’ve ever said that to anyone, but yeah, I thought he was a cutie, and he seemed genuinely invested in us our season. We used to sing R. Kelly’s remix to Ignition every week during the results show taping with Ryan just to keep us calm and he knew all of the words…that impressed me! LOL!
CJ.COM: Are you still in contact with any of your former cast mates? If so, which ones?
Trenyce: I am! We of course are busy and working and all but from time to time we still speak and write each other and Ruben and I skyped each other about 2wks ago. Clay contacted me the other day and said “Ok, it’s time for a reunion and since you’re the one half way across the globe I’m starting with you!” so there will be a reunion soon! They are my family for life.
CJ.COM: Do people still recognize you from the show? What do they usually say to you?
Trenyce: People do still recognize me and I am grateful for that. It always throws me off when they do, simply because it’s been so long and I just don’t expect it, but when it happens, it’s great! I had a guy on the tube (underground) in London take pics and everything and I was like, “WOW! even in London!?” and he says he loved our season. It’s still a humbling moment when it happens.
CJ.COM: After leaving Idol, was there a point where you felt depressed or like you needed to change careers?
Trenyce: Yes…I hesitate to talk about it often…but yes. There were times when I felt like I was being punished for mentioning anything about the contract to the other contestants, and until this day it has haunted me a bit. I wish I had never asked any questions and just signed it as is, and maybe Simon would have liked me more. My intention was never to come off too cocky or disingenuous, or disrespectful, but somehow I feel I may have. I felt depressed not because I’d lost, but because I felt that I was labeled without a way to defend myself. People never knew what I was going through behind the scenes of the show…meaning at home as well…it was a very difficult time in my life to be doing a show, especially with millions of people watching. The depression and issues lasted a few years and then I decided to do something about it…I had to stop feeling sorry for my situation. I auditioned more, I prayed harder, I worked even harder to be seen as a real performer and to be taken seriously, who was not just some “diva” on a tv show but a respectable, team player, who would do what she had to do to stay active in this industry. It took a LOT of undoing for me but I think I have gotten to a place of growth and serenity…and surrender. I had no control over that show or what became of it for me, but I have control over my future and I will never give up. The last thing I would like to do is have a chat with Simon as a grown woman now, just to bury a few things that I feel need to be. I will make it happen one day. But change careers….never. I was built for this. This is my plan A-Z!
CJ.COM: If you could create a judging panel for Idol who would you put at the table?
Trenyce: If I could make a panel it would be a rotating chair of former idols (ME), Queen Latifah because she has mastered every part of the business successfully so she knows what to look for as well as how to be that mentor that can not only make you a better singer/performer but a better brand. Jill Scott because as a singer/songwriter, poet and actress she strikes me as a person with an appreciation for all genres. Missy Elliott would be amazing because she is a singer/rapper and she has always come off as a motivator. Justin Timberlake would be a great judge because he takes his craft seriously but he’s also funny and would be great for TV. He grew up in the “Mickey Mouse Club” world so he gets it.
Trenyce: The death of Whitney Houston devastated me more than the death of Michael Jackson, simply because she was the reason I became a singer. I wanted to be her as a child. I thought she was not only gorgeous but she was regal and poised. Her voice gave me chills. I’d never wanted to “be” someone so much! I won every single talent show I ever entered by singing Whitney Houston. Out of all of the songs I would stay in my room and sing to my stuffed animals , hers was the one that my parents said my texture and tone matched the most.
They had no idea how much that meant to me. Her death made me angry a little…that her legacy wouldn’t end happily…and not for her fans but for HER. That her mom would be left without a daughter, and her daughter left without a mom. And I also had the pleasure of singing “I HAVE NOTHING” on American Idol my season. I was the first to even DARE tackle her music. I wanted to sing “I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU” instead because it was my signature song back home in Memphis, but Dolly Parton at the time, was not willing to give the show the rights to use it. Years later, it was sung and I was like “What? They cleared it?…Wow!” Missed out on that.
CJ.COM: Would you be interested in doing anymore Reality TV? If so, what kind? If not, why not?
Trenyce: You know, I used to say “NO!” simply because I didn’t like the way Idol portrayed me, but I can now say that it depends on the show. I am my own woman, and I actually have a lot more to say now than I did then, that’s for sure. I hadn’t lived really…I was a baby. But if a network came to me I would consider it for sure. It would be nice to show who I really am instead of what people think they know. I think they would be surprised at how silly I am. I have friends on R&B Divas and I think they are portrayed almost exactly as they are. It would be a nice idea to see some of the idols in a life after sort of reality show.
CJ.COM: You’re currently touring in Europe on The Thriller Tour. How did you get involved in this tour? How has the experience been thus far? How does European living compare to the US/your home town?
Trenyce: Well, I’m actually currently sitting still on the West End version of the show right now…but I do the tour from time to time as well, just to change the scenery and view different parts of the globe. I got involved in the project from Los Angeles. I was touring with Ain’t Misbehavin when I first got the call from a casting agent and I declined it since was not yet done with the run, but when the offer came around again and it gave me the chance to go abroad (one thing that was certainly on my bucketlist)…I couldn’t turn it down. Plus, MJ had just passed and I felt like it would be great to tribute the Icon that was responsible for a part in making my dreams a reality for me from childhood.
European living is certainly different. I think in America we are taught at a young age that nothing beats a first place winner, you must get the “gold star” on your homework, you must have perfect attendance, and all while being polite…at least in the south. So, I had to adjust to the rudeness as well as the persistence of “take a holiday” when there is nothing wrong with you! lol…In our minds we take a holiday when you are stressed, exhausted, and having a nervous breakdown which reminds you it’s time to sit down for a moment, but here there is a bank holiday almost monthly and nothing is open! Another thing I had to adjust to was the weather and transportation…I pray for a sunny day and would be rich if I counted how often it was gloomy and/or rainy and the tube (subway) is easy to get around on, thankfully but definitely not my first choice. But even with all of that…
London has a heartbeat like no other place I’ve been, with a hint of NYC sprinkled all over it, its pulse is kept by the architecture, West End, and countless beautiful nooks that you have to get out and explore to find…not to mention the fashion! Ahhh, it’s the first thing I recognized being here…How open and free people are with their fashion choices. Layers, colors, prints, bold accents!!! It all spells LONDON! I have learned to embrace everything that comes along with it.
CJ.COM: What does 2013 have in store for Trenyce? What are your plans outside of music?
Trenyce: 2013 will be a continuation of 2012, which I saw as one of the most rewarding years I’ve had! I want to push harder, be greater, put all of my talents to use, and remind myself every day that I may not be where I thought I should be by now, but 2013 is for not giving up or giving in! My plans for outside of the industry is to create a brand of products that I have been researching for some time, so more details will follow soon. I will be celebrating my appearance in my first ever feature film starring Jim Carrey, Chloe Moretz, Morris Chestnut and Donald Faison in Kick Ass 2! I play the cheerleading coach and it was a great time with very sweet, focused people. I had the time of my life! And the best part was slapping Jim Carrey’s ass while singing karoake at our wrap party! And hopefully more films and tv will follow!
CJ.COM: A lot of people have only gotten a chance to hear you do beautiful covers. How would you describe your own style of music? What do you hope to bring to the industry?
Trenyce: Aw, thank you. My own style is very retro funk and soul with a sprinkle of disco. I come from Memphis and we sing from our gut! It’s something that I’ve been raised on so it’s in me. My voice has always been a bit heavier and soulful for my size and I tried to tone it down before while recording but now I’m embracing every OCTAVE I can hit! I think people will be surprised at just how many directions my voice can comfortably go. I hope to bring ME to the industry! My personality, my work ethic, my sound, my way! I think everything has been done…to me it’s about authenticity with one’s self. As long as you don’t come off like a carbon copy, there’s nothing wrong with being inspired by the greats! I just want to be a genuine artist who leaves her soul on the stage!
CJ.COM: Is R&B dying or being revitalized? Who’s leading the pack?
Trenyce: I think that R&B is finding it’s heartbeat again. I think it is on a “cut time” rhythm at the moment, but I am awaiting the time that it has a steady heartbeat again. We need it. We need to have a variety of music heard and appreciated. So, no need to dismiss or get rid of any other genre, but we can surely gain from adding more voices and styles to the pot. Who’s leading the pack for me are: Dawn Richards, I just love her drive and ambition to be the best at any cost. To not give up, and her writing AND performances are just ON POINT! I have always been a fan of Brandy…to me, she created the idea that a singer can be an actress and a brand in my generation. She still seems to have a heart of gold and counting her blessings as if it was her first time in the game. Miguel has now entered the scene bringing with him his own style and eclectic approach to R&B and I love it. There was a time when I was afraid R&B would become the new “disco” but I am glad that there are those out there not willing to let it die.
CJ.COM: Are you currently dating, married, or have children? If so, how does that effect your everyday life / career aspirations?
Trenyce: I am not married. No children at the moment, but I am currently dating the most incredible guy ever! His name is Magnus and he’s half Norwegian. I have never been a relationship girl simply because of what I do, I don’t trust that easily but he was the first guy in a long time to get to know me as a woman and as a friend before nervously asking me to date him…I mean, in this day and age what man ASKS?
It was the cutest thing ever, and poor guy was soooooo nervous! I had to say yes and we’ve been happy together for the past 2yrs. I don’t want to jinx it so I will just say that we take it one day at a time and we allow ourselves to be open, honest and free within the relationship. Never forgetting how we met. We still have date nights, we do sappy things like dance in the middle of a grocery store or mall if a slow song comes on, and just have a good time! We both cry when we walk into a store and somehow stumble over to the kids section. We have names picked out. We pray together…He’s my best friend! It’s like out of a movie…I moved 10,000 mi from home to meet the love of my life!
Trenyce released a music video post American Idol: