This morning, I had the pleasure of talking with Trenyce, the latest finalist voted off of American Idol. As was the case on the show, Trenyce seemed very relaxed and at ease with being interviewed. It was a pleasure to talk to her. Here's what she had to say:
Trenyce, let me first tell you that as I was going through the questions I received for you, I got one all the way from London, England. The person who e-mailed me wanted me to let you know that you have a lot of fans "across the pond".
So, anyway, what made you decide to try out for the show?
I watched the show last year, and I was totally, like, smitten with all of the contestants. I thought all of them had a lot to offer, and the show was so addictive! (*laughter*) I would rush home each week just to watch the show, and once Tamyra was voted off, I was like, "Awwwww…" (*laughter*)
Was she your favorite last year?
Yeah, she was my favorite last year. But, I knew it (the show) was something I'd like to try, because I like the whole concept of singing different genres and getting up there each week and having an audience…also, getting a fan base and becoming known across the world without submitting a demo! So, I figured when the time came around for AI2 I wouldn't mind trying out.
And, of course, we're all glad you did.
Thank you…thank you.
Now, if you could sing a duet with anyone you wanted, whom would you choose?
Definitely Brian McKnight. I absolutely adore his music. He's completely versatile. He plays and sings at the same time, and I really, really love that. He just seems like such a very spiritually grounded person.
A lot of people have compared Rickey Smith to him…would you agree with that?
Yes, I would. I mean, he has that same, um, totally sweet personality. He's just so warm. So, I can definitely see how they would compare them…voice-wise as well.
Let's say that someone came to you and said, "Trenyce, you are in charge of picking the theme this week." What would you like to see done?
I would totally like to see jazz done.
And if you were singing in Jazz Week, do you know what you might sing?
Um…hmm…I think I'd like to sing "Them There Eyes". I love that song.
OK, so you've picked a theme one week. Let's say they come back to you and say, "Trenyce, you can choose the guest judge one week." Who would you pick?
India.arie. She absolutely fascinates me.
That would be great.
Now, this season, it seems that more people have talked back to the judges than before. Do you think that helps or hurts?
(*laughter*) I think…I mean, I don't…hmm…How can I put this? I don't, because I feel like it's constructive criticism—well, most of it—and I think that it's something you're going to have to deal with in the industry. I think you should be able to keep your composure and totally know how to handle yourself both on- and off-camera. I think if you can handle yourself on-camera, you can definitely handle yourself off-camera, because the cameras pick up everything. So, um, I just…I don't agree with doing it. I think it does kind of, um…take away from your personality a little bit, or it maybe broadcasts how you really are. Sometimes you might say something back, and it might not come out how you want it to be, and America will totally, um, take advantage of that in a negative light, and you just don't want that. So, for me, I personally don't think that it's a good idea. Sometimes it is good to stick up for yourself, but it just depends on the situation.
Also this season, a lot has been made of the whole "talent vs. image" debate…
How important do you think each should be?
I personally have never been one for, you know, how a person looks, their size, or whatever. I just totally believe that…you know, image and talent go hand-in-hand. But it does not have to be society's definition like size 2, long hair…you know what I mean? I mean, a lot of people have that uniqueness which is what makes their image, which is what totally enhances their talent. So, even from the beginning, when everyone was like, "Oh, we don't want a size 2 to be the American Idol. We want someone that's…", I really kind of felt that was hypocritical. I mean, what about the size 2 people that can't gain weight and still have talent and do a good job at singing? So, I think it's kind of a double-edged sword.
Now, you were in the first group of 8 that sang for a spot in the finals. When, unfortunately, you didn't get selected from that group, did you start thinking about the Wildcard Show then? Did the thought of the Wildcard Show even enter your mind?
It barely entered my mind (*laughter*). I was actually telling my friends back home…I was like, "Oh, that was probably my shot" because I was never really shown that much (on TV). So, I wasn't exactly sure if I stood out enough for me to come back, because there were other people that they focused a little bit more heavily on. So, I was quite shocked to be sitting in my living room…(*laughter*)
Well, that was my next question. So, it's true that you found out on TV?
Tell me about that. How did that happen?
Well, um, I was watching Group 4 perform, and at the end of that segment, they were saying that they were going to announce who the Wildcard picks were. I was like, you know, I had my family there and I said, "Let's sit down and see who's going to be picked for the Wildcards." So, I was totally shocked to see my name and my face pop up. I was like, "Wow…they didn't even contact me."
I was going to ask you about that. They did afterwards, I guess, right?
Right. Immediately after the show, they realized that they hadn't (*laughter*). So, they were like, "Oh my gosh…you're on the next flight out in the morning!" And I was like, "Great! I'm glad I got my hair done!" (*laughter*)
Perfect timing, huh?
Now, when the judges were announcing who they wanted to move on through, what did you think when Paula said your name?
Oh, wow…I don't know if you watched that episode, but I was like, "Wow". I mean, it was a lot for me to come back, to bounce back from Group 1 then to the Wildcard Show, because, like I said, I wasn't shown that much. At the time, you don't exactly know what type of impact you're going to have on the judges or on America, and once I didn't get through in Group 1, I was like, "Oh well, I'm just going to have to work harder to make sure the judges know I can do this." So, I felt really good that Paula believed in me enough to pick me for her Wildcard, and I hope I did her proud.
OK, now look into your crystal ball and tell me who you see in the Final 2 and who you see winning the whole thing?
(*laughter*) Um, I'm still…I mean, I get asked that a lot, and I'm still between Clay and Ruben. I think they are both the most, um, warm to the public, and for different reasons. They're, like, totally different. But, I think the public views them kind of the same. Clay is definitely like "the boy next door". You could just walk up to Clay and start a conversation. And Ruben, even though he doesn't have a lot to say (*laughter*)…there's just something about him that is very endearing. So, that's why I choose those two.
Of all the celebrities you met, who…is there anybody that stands out?
Oh, wow…um…I'd have to say that meeting Gladys Knight was such an honor. I mean, my mom grew up on that type of music and was totally in love with her. And I was totally in love with her…on the weekends when my parents would play her music (*laughter*). She's such a classy lady that totally defines "diva" in a positive light. She's absolutely wonderful.
What was it like living in the house?
Um, the house was great. I mean, I think all of us were just in awe for about 2 or 3 weeks. But, it became, like, totally hollow when people started leaving. I think that all our different personalities kind of made it a home. Then, to see someone leave each week…it kind of does something to you.
What are you going to miss most about living in the house?
Um…what am I going to miss this most? Wow…(*laughter*)…having Bev, our personal chef, come in on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. She's really sweet, and we just totally looked at her as mom. As a matter of fact, we called her "Mom". I'm really going to miss her to death.
Since y'all were living in the house together but also competing against each other, did that make things tough?
No, I don't think so. I can only speak for me, but I didn't really look at it as a competition to begin with. I only got up there to do my personal best and to represent Memphis, Tennessee and to make my mom and my family and friends proud. So, I never looked at it as a competition against the other contestants, because once you do that, you're kind of hurting yourself and you're focused on "How can I be better than this person?" To me, that just takes too much energy.
Of all the other people in the house, who were you the closest to?
Closest to? Definitely Kim Caldwell.
While y'all were in the house, did you ever go out onto the Internet and check out fan sites or message boards?
Oh yeah. We looked at all of that stuff. We were, um, totally flabbergasted with the websites. We were like, "Wow…people actually take the time to put all these things together." I mean, I recently went to the AI2 site, and I saw that I have a remix for "Love's Sneakin' Up On You", and I was like, "What!?!?!" I mean, I have to say thank you to the person for even taking the time to do that. As far as the negativity on the message boards, um, it just makes you a stronger person. I can't say that some things don't hurt, because it does. And it's a little bit worse than taking it from the judges, because these are the people that are supposedly going to go out and buy your CDs, you know? If they don't like you, then you do kind of get sad about it. But, it's not something…I mean, I know that it just goes with the territory, and everybody's not going to like you.
Well, hopefully, if you haven't been by our website, you can stop by there and say hi sometime, too.
Did you have any kind of say-so on what song you performed on the Love Songs CD, or did they just tell you, "We want you to perform XXX"?
Yeah, they told us exactly what to sing.
Now, sit at the judges' table and critique your own performances. Which was your best and which was your worst?
Alright…um, I think I'm going to stick to my story about my worst and say "I Need You" (from Country Rock Night). However, my best would have to be…at one point, I would say "I Have Nothing" but now I'd have to say my last two performances.
I think you definitely went out on a high note.
Yeah, that's all I really wanted to do.
Which would you say is tougher: performing in the semi-finals with just the judges and the camera, or performing in the finals in front of the live audience?
I think it was without the audience…just the judges and the camera. It's totally hard, because you have to use the camera as your eyes to communicate to the audience, whereas when the audience is right there, it's just so much easier to totally get engulfed in what you're doing and communicating it to them.
Now, I'm going to throw out some names to you, and you just tell me the first thing that comes to mind, OK?
Velvet teddy bear.
Oh…what's a good one for Julia?…shy.
Ryan Seacrest! Cutie pie.
Now, when you were standing up there Wednesday night, and Ryan was getting ready to announce who would join you on stage…what did you think when he said it was Ruben?
I was totally shocked when he said it was Ruben. Um, I didn't think he deserved to be there, and it just kind of lets you know that…you know, the audience has to make sure they are voting for who did the best that night and not so much personal favorites.
In terms of the judges' critiques, do you think they were being overly harsh for dramatic effect, or do you think they were trying to give constructive criticism?
Um, a lot of the time, I think it was constructive, but as far as Simon goes, the dramatic effect definitely was a part of it.
What kind of advice would you give to someone who wanted to try out for the show?
I would tell them to, um, stay true to themselves and never give up…and just get out there and know that you're doing it for you and don't do it for anyone else.
Is there anything you want to say to your fans at our site before you go?
Thank you very much for all of the love and support, and I can't wait to see each and every one of you on tour. And don't be afraid to come up and hug me! (*laughter*)
Well, have a great time, and please feel free to stop by our website and say hi sometime. I'm sure we'll hear lots of good things from you in the future.
Oh, thank you. I will definitely keep in touch.
Congratulations again, Trenyce. Thanks for talking to me today.
To contact the author of this interview, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My thanks to Trenyce for taking the time to talk to me today and to FOX for letting me interview all of this season's finalists.