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TRANSCEND

TRANSCEND: TRENYCE COBBINS

Grammy nominated Singer and Actor Trenyce Cobbins speaks with Gracie.

the following is a transcript of Gracie’s conversation with the talented, Trenyce Cobbins.

GRACIE

Hitting high notes with this songbird next. I’m so happy to sit with today’s guest. From Grammy nominated singer to actress, to musical theater, gracing the stages of the productions like Dreamgirls, Thriller, Aint Misbehavin and the Vagina Monologues, and those are just to name a few, all while receiving rave reviews. I’m a fan of this woman. She’s just always so poised with this super polished voice of hers. Please welcome to Transcend the beautiful, talented and fabulous Trenyce.

TRENYCE

Ah, thank you so much for that. How are you?

GRACIE

I’m so good, how are you love?

TRENYCE

I am well, I’m feeling great.

GRACIE

I’m just so excited to sit with you. You know, I’m a huge fan of yours. I just adore the woman that you are, the beauty that you bring to the world, to the stages, and just also to your Instagram. So thank you for being here.

TRENYCE

Thank you. And I feel the exact same way about you. I’ve been following you for so long. I absolutely adore you.

GRACIE

You began singing at two years old, and in fact your parents were both singers and actually met while performing. So I’m sure they played a major part in you becoming the artist you are today. Also after winning a talent contest with none other than Jennifer Holliday being a judge telling you that you are going to be a superstar. Did you feel pressure to live up to that from her and your parents?

TRENYCE

Music come so naturally for me. It always felt like playtime. I was that child that was lost in their bedroom, creating songs and producing for friends and, you know, making up songs, and things like that from a very young age. So it just kind of quite, it just felt natural to me. It felt very natural. Hearing that from Jennifer Holliday though put the stamp on it. My mom has been talking about who she was, and Dreamgirls and all of that for most of my life. You know, we’re very much into music and theater, and that type of thing. And also black artists specifically. So I knew exactly who she was and her compliment just, it just kinda put me over the edge and gave me that extra boost that I needed to continue to be an artist.

GRACIE

That’s so major. Although American Idol may have played a part of your big break, you were performing in slang stages way before then. However queen, you made it to the top five of your season. What was that moment and experience like for you?

TRENYCE

Oh wow, Idol gave me the ability to finally come out of my shell. You know, I had been doing songs on stage, and performing, and dancing and all of that all of my life, but what American Idol did was it took me to the next level and it allowed me to see that this is what I really wanted to do, because that schedule was so hectic. I mean, we were up from five o’clock in the morning, all the way to maybe midnight. And so it just gave me, it was like you had to be on your stuff. You know, you had to practice, you had to be focused, you had to be driven. And so for that, and also be able to take the lumps and the bumps that came along with the industry as well. So it gave me all of that tool edge that you cannot get from just sitting in a classroom or taking a music class, you know. ‘Cause I went to school on a scholarship, but American Idol just gave me so much more to work with and to decide, yes, this is absolutely what I wanna do.

GRACIE

I love that you touched on that, because that’s what I would like to know. We all know that this is the tough industry that comes with many highs and lows that we all face throughout our journey. On a personal note has there ever been a moment that you’ve experienced the ugly side of the business that has strengthened you, but also forced you to understand the power of forgiveness? And if so, what does forgiveness means to you?

TRENYCE

Yeah, there was, well, actually there were plenty of incidents on set of the show, on the set of American Idol where I kind of felt like I was left on my own as a black woman. Everything from the way my makeup looked on camera to them trying to figure out what to do with my hair. And luckily for me I had Byrd, the vocal coach at the time to kind of help me through it. But being that young and not really knowing, I knew how to express myself, but not really getting the feedback that I thought that I was gonna get. It prepared me also for what generally happens on a lot of the sets in this industry, where we don’t have the proper, and you know this. You know, we don’t have the proper person of color that’s there to say, listen, you know, she needs a hot iron, she needs weave, she needs whatever that is. And also color matching. You know, we’ve just stepped into an era of not having to blend makeup together in order to match your tone. So there was a lot of little things like that. And just kind of being the only dark skin girl on set as well. And I do mean on set. So all of those things kind of made me feel a little bit like an outcast, and also like I was begging for something, or being treated like, oh, she’s being a diva, she’s asking for too much, when really those are just minimal things that you should just generally not have to ask for and just get so that you’re not worried about how you’re looking and how you’re coming across on stage. So, and the thing about forgiveness. There are so many things, it’s not just Idol, just across the board in the industry where you know that you’re gonna be taken for a ride in some instances, and you just have to, I think it me thicker skin, it made me more of a business woman, even when I didn’t think I had to be, or even when I was like, you know, I’m just a singer, this is what I do. You have to become a business woman and know what you want, and be okay with being powerful and dedicated to your craft, because you know what you’re going to bring to the table. So I figured the more that you know what you want the less you have to have people trying to figure it out for you and putting you in places and situations that you don’t wanna be in. But it did. It took a lot of forgiveness on my end as a young performer, not really knowing what to do or how to handle myself. And sometimes even now I have to kind of go, okay, what’s the best way to get my point across without coming off. Like I’m being too aggressive. And sometimes you can and sometimes you absolutely cannot, and you just have to just smile and push and just go to the next thing, you know.

GRACIE

You hit so many major powerful points that as artists, as black women, as black individuals, that we face, that it really does come with the territory. And I’m so happy that you gave the insight to those who may be thinking of joining the business. Because from speaking from someone, from being a hairstylist in my past, and also now being the talent, it is, it’s like, I’m so grateful that I have those gifts and tools, because it is a major setup. And people do not realize the importance. So when you don’t feel good, it shows in your work, you feel it in your work, and you can be going ready to give it your A game. But when all of, just the look and everything else is not ready, it really does affect you, it affects the work. So I’m so happy that you touched on that.

TRENYCE

Absolutely. And that’s just perfectly put, because on the set sometimes I just did not feel like I could give my best, because I knew I didn’t look my best, I knew I didn’t feel my best. And so just looking back on it now it’s almost like when your mother breaks out your baby pictures or your, you know, and you’re just like, oh my God, I feel so embarrassed. You know, I would have those moments of wanting to hide from the camera or hide those videotapes and be like, please put that away, that’s not even who I really was. And I could see myself being so introverted and scared, and not all I knew that I could be. So, yeah, but I do. I forgive that moment in time, it was a different moment in time. But what I’m proud of is that more women of color behind the scenes and in front of the camera are starting to make sure that we look and feel our best. And that we’re just saying it out loud, that this makes me uncomfortable, that we, you know, I’m sorry, but hair and makeup needs to be diversified, and things like that. So I’m glad that we finally reached that point in the industry, where people are starting to take notes of that and pay more attention to it.

GRACIE

Well, now let’s get into some of your more iconic moments Ms. Grammy nominee. You played the one and only Diana Ross in the Motown musical and have covered the legendary voice, Whitney, which billboard magazine included in 100 best Idol performances. What does that mean to Trenyce as an artist?

TRENYCE

I can pitch myself because I grew up on both of those women. To me they are the, I call Diana Ross the blueprint, because she’s the very first black pop star ever. I don’t care who you love. She’s the blueprint, that’s where it started. Barry Gordy did an incredible job of making sure that her star shined across the board, that everyone wanted to be Diana Ross. Her poise, her assertiveness, her angelic nature, all of that stuff came across the screen. And even her assertiveness. You could see that even in her characters that she played. But what I loved was that she came from nothing, she created who she wanted to be, and she never took her foot off the gas. And when it came to Whitney Houston, Whitney, I just finally found a voice that connected with mine. I finally was able to listen to someone and see someone perform on stage the way that I feel like, that’s what I wanna do. You know, that’s who I wanna be when I grow up. And so those two women, I think they just set the bar for me. They really, really did. And it’s, as an artist you always wanna be able to figure out who you are, and you know, if I wanna follow anybody I want it to be someone who’s full of grace, poise, and just know who they are as an artist. And both of those ladies are just top tier to me.

GRACIE

Agreed. And poised you are from your singing voice to your speaking voice. You’re just so eloquent and just so, and I hate when people say that to a black person, but from one sister to another, you just have the most beautiful, softest, purest voice. I’m so thankful that you were here joining us today and sharing your story. I’m happy I had the pleasure again of just really connecting with you.

TRENYCE

Thank you so much beautiful. Thank you for having me and even thinking of me. 

GRACIE

Absolutely. I feel good.

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