Trenyce at a London photoshoot in 2012
|Birth name||Lashundra Trenyce Cobbins|
March 31, 1980 |
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Lashundra Trenyce Cobbins (//; born March 31, 1980) is an American singer and actress best known as a finalist on the second season of American Idol and for her work in musical theatre. Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Trenyce won one of the categories of the NAACP ACT-SO as a teenager, and attended the University of Memphis on a music scholarship. She left the university's nursing program to pursue a career in music. News of her criminal record surfaced in 2003 while she was competing as a finalist on American Idol.
Following her fifth-place finish on American Idol, Trenyce began to focus on theatre, debuting as Yancey in the play Not a Day Goes By. She went on to play roles in The Vagina Monologues, Soul Kittens Cabaret, and Mama's Sweet Potato Pie. In 2006, she played the lead role of Deena Jones in an Indianapolis production of Dreamgirls. She made her film debut in 2008 as Unique in the LGBT independent romantic comedy movie Friends & Lovers: The Ski Trip 2 and became the first former American Idol contestant to headline a show in Las Vegas. She originated the role of Portia in David E. Talbert's play Love in the Nick of Tyme and was featured on its soundtrack. Trenyce performed in a 2009 North American tour of Ain't Misbehavin'.
From 2010 to 2013, she played the role of the leading female vocalist in Thriller – Live for a European tour and its West End run. She had a minor role in the 2013 superhero comedy film Kick-Ass 2 as Hit-Girl's cheerleading coach. In 2015, Trenyce moved to Macau, China, to host the Franco Dragone-produced cabaret show Taboo at the casino City of Dreams.
1980–2002: Early life
Lashundra Trenyce Cobbins was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Her father, Jesse, worked for St. Joe Company, and her mother, Linda, worked at FedEx. She has an older sister and a younger sister. As a child, she decided to be known by her middle name, feeling that it better suited her ambitions as a performer. Trenyce has written that her interest in music started after performing a solo in a musical production celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. In his book Music in Youth Culture: A Lacanian Approach, Jan Jagodzinski argued that Trenyce's decision to promote herself through her middle name was an attempt to garner "an American appeal"; he commented that Trenyce's birth name Lashundra Cobbin is "an impossible 'pop' signifier". Trenyce grew up in the northern Memphis area, where she attended Central High School. During high school, Trenyce performed in in various talent shows and pageants, In 1996, she won first place in a singing competition at the national NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics in Atlanta.
At the age of nineteen, Trenyce was arrested for theft at work. A Shelby County, Tennessee, criminal court judge, permitted her to participate in a pre-trial diversion program that expunged the felony charges from her record. She has denied the theft and claimed that it was a co-worker who stole the items from her workplace.
Trenyce attended the University of Memphis on a full music scholarship. While in college, she joined the University Singers ensemble choir and its band Sound Fuzion, which toured throughout Tennessee. The website of Sound Fuzion described Trenyce's as a "powerhouse voice". After completing three years of the school's nursing program, Trenyce left the University of Memphis to pursue music full-time. During this time, she performed in such venues as Rhythms Night Club, Precious Cargo, and Isaac Hayes' Restaurant.
2002–03: American Idol
In October 2002, Trenyce auditioned for the second season of the reality television series American Idol. The judges chose her to become one of the top 32 semi-finalists, and judge Paula Abdul chose her as a "wildcard selection" to proceed forward as one of the twelve finalists. Trenyce's arrest was disclosed to the public during her appearance on the show. Producer Nigel Lythgoe denied suggestions that Trenyce would be removed from the series, as had happened with some former contestants. He clarified that Trenyce informed the producers of her criminal history from the outset, and it would not impact her participation.
Trenyce placed fifth during the season finals. Jim Cantiello of MTV News connected the disclosure of Trenyce's mug shot and felony theft charges to her elimination, writing: "America ends up doing the show's dirty work by voting her off". Entertainment Weekly also commented that the news relating to Trenyce's criminal record reduced her appeal with voters. Several media commentators suggested that racism may have played a role in Trenyce's elimination, as she was one of only two dark-skinned finalists during the season (the other was Ruben Studdard).
In 2016, following the news of the show's eventual cancellation, a writer from Billboard included Trenyce's rendition of Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing" in its list of the top 100 best live performances from the series. Entertainment Weekly found her to be one of the show's most underrated contestants and called her a "polished performer with enough sass to eschew her surname". Vulture.com's Maura Johnston provided a mixed response to Trenyce's time on the show. While she criticized Trenyce for being "[a] little yell-y, a little pitch-y, a little guarded", Johnston praised her voice and song choices and said that Trenyce set "a precedent for the divas who followed" in future American Idol seasons.
|American Idol Season 2 performances and results|
|Week #||Theme||Song choice||Original artist||Order #||Results|
|Top 30||Semifinal/Group 1||"Love Sneakin' Up On You"||Bonnie Raitt||4||Eliminated|
|Wildcard||"Let's Stay Together"||Al Green||9||Paula Abdul's choice|
|Top 12||Motown||"Come See About Me"||The Supremes||11||Safe|
|Top 11||Cinema||"I Have Nothing"||Whitney Houston||3|
|Top 10||Country rock||"I Need You"||LeAnn Rimes||2|
|Top 81||Disco||"I'm Every Woman"||Chaka Khan||5||Bottom 2|
|Top 8||Billboard #1||"The Power of Love"||Celine Dion||7||Safe|
|Top 7||Billy Joel||"Baby Grand"||Billy Joel||6||Bottom 3|
|Top 6||Dianne Warren||"Have You Ever?"||Brandy||3|
"Love Will Keep Us Together"
|Creedence Clearwater Revival
Captain & Tennille
Following her elimination, Trenyce made appearances on television shows, including Live with Regis and Kelly, Extra, ET, Fox and Friends, The Early Show, The Wayne Brady Show, The Pulse, Inside Edition, Good Day Live, the Today Show, and TRL. She was also featured in Memphis periodicals Grace Magazine, Proud Magazine, and Party Source, featured as one of Memphis' 30 Most Beautiful People in Elite Magazine's June 2003 issue, and appeared on a cover of "God Bless the USA" along with the other American Idol Season 2 finalists. Trenyce participated in a three-month concert tour with the other season 2 finalists, performing Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" and Houston's "I Have Nothing". Her rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" was included on the compilation album American Idol Season 2: All-Time Classic American Love Songs (2003). AllMusic's Heather Phares praised Trenyce as one of the strongest performers of the show, but criticized her cover version for having an "indistinct quality". In an interview with Lime Music, Trenyce said that she was offered a record deal around this time, but rejected it because she found the terms unsatisfactory. At this time, Trenyce's mother was her manager.
2004–09: Transition to musical theatre
Trenyce's work in theatre has primarily focused on "various entertainment aspects of African-American interest". In 2004, she made her theatre debut as Yancey in a North American tour of Not A Day Goes By, a play (with songs) adapted from the E. Lynn Harris' 2000 novel of the same name. The tour ran from January to May 2004. Jet wrote that Trenyce "breathes life and voice into Yancey", and described her as one of the show's "rich vocal talents". The Chicago Defender felt that Trenyce displayed a "theatrical perception as she interprets a character". She later performed in the episodic play The Vagina Monologues. In 2005, she played in two Nicci Gillbert's stage productions: Soul Kittens Cabaret and Mama's Sweet Potato Pie, participating in a North American tour of the latter. The same year, she made a cameo appearance in the comedy film Beauty Shop, and performed on the BET reality television series College Hill.
Trenyce played Deena Jones in an Indianapolis production of the musical Dreamgirls, which ran from June to July 2006. NUVO wrote that Trenyce's "smooth voice creat[ed] a sound for The Dreams that could easily have taken the group to the top of the charts". In the same year, she became the first former American Idol contestant to headline a show in Las Vegas with V: The Ultimtate Variety Show and Late Night Idol at the Sahara Hotel and Casino. She hosted the shows for a total of nine months.
In 2007, Trenyce played Portia in David E. Talbert's play Love in the Nick of Tyme. This toured in North America to seventeen cities, starting in the Beacon Theatre in New York on January 16, 2007. In 2010, a film of the production was released on DVD, along with its soundtrack. The play was also broadcast on BET. In the following year, she performed at the Razz Room in San Francisco between July 22 and August 2. In 2008, Trenyce made her film debut as Unique in the LGBT independent romantic comedy movie Friends & Lovers: The Ski Trip 2. In 2009, she contributed the title track to the soundtrack for the film Truth Hall.
Trenyce played a role in the thirtieth anniversary revival tour of Ain't Misbehavin' after a recommendation from Ruben Studdard. She said that she developed a close attachment to Fats Waller's music. As traditionally done with the show, the performers used their own names for their characters. The cast album received a nomination for Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.
2010–present: London and Macau
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In 2010, Trenyce sang during the interludes and dance performances for Louis Van Amstel"s Ballroom with a Twist. Karyn Saemann of Madison.com described Trenyce as "a truly gifted singer who did more than justice to several tunes", especially in her performances of Whitney Houston songs. Later in 2010, Trenyce first starred in the Michael Jackson tribute concert revue Thriller – Live as the leading female vocalist during a European tour. She reprised her role when the show played at the Lyric Theatre in London's West End. She was the only female singer in the show, and the only American lead. In the revue, she performed material from different periods in Jackson's career. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trenyce said that the audience was initially hesitant to hear a woman interpret Jackson's music. Theatreworld's Geoff Billingsley praised Trenyce's performance, writing that her voice sounded very similar to Jackson's unique sound, describing her as an improvement over the previous female lead Cleo Higgins.
While in London, Trenyce also hosted the variety show The Box. In 2012, she provided the vocals for Baff Akoto's short film Afterglow; the film follows a group of friends as they navigate jazz culture in London. In a behind-the-scenes feature, Trenyce said that the casting call specified a preference for a dark-skinned American woman who could sing jazz and currently lived in London.
She had a minor role in the 2013 superhero, comedy film Kick-Ass 2 as Hit-Girl's cheerleading coach. In December 2013, she released three songs: "Fever", "In the End (Alright)", and "Where Do They Go?" on iTunes.
In 2015, Trenyce hosted Taboo, a cabaret show designed by Franco Dragone, in Macau, China. The show was staged in the casino City of Dreams; Trenyce was given creative control over the selection of musical genres and songs as long as they fit the cabaret's overall style. Macau.com praised Trenyce's stage presence and "the power of her voice and stature". She was also featured in two remix extended plays as the guest artist on producer and DJ Guy Scheiman's single "Brazil You're Ready (Synethetic)" released separately in 2014 and 2015. She collaborated with Scheiman again on his 2016 single "This Time".
|2004||Not A Day Goes By||Yancey||North American tour
January 10, 2004 – May 6, 2004
|N/A||The Vagina Monologues||N/A|
|2005||Soul Kittens Cabaret||N/A|
|2006||Mama's Sweet Potato Pie||N/A||North American tour|
|2006||Dreamgirls||Deena Jones||Madame Walker Theatre Center; Scottish Rite Theater (Indianapolis)
June 22, 2004 – July 2, 2004
|2006||V: The Ulimtate Vareity Show||Host||Sahara Hotel and Casino (Las Vegas)|
|2006||Late Night Idol||Host||Sahara Hotel and Casino (Las Vegas)|
|2007||Love in the Nick of Tyme||Portia||North American tour|
|2009||Ain't Misbehavin'||Trenyce||North American tour|
|2010–2013||Thriller – Live||Charlaine||European tour; London West End (Lyric Theatre)|
|2010||Ballroom with a Twist||Vocals||North American tour|
|2012||The Box||Host||Variety[clarification needed]; London|
|2015||Taboo||Host||Cabaret show; City of Dreams casino (Macau, China)|
|2002–2003||American Idol (television)||Herself (contestant)||Season 2 (finalist)|
|2005||College Hill (television)||Herself||Performance|
|2007||Beauty Shop||N/A||Cameo appearance|
|2008||Friends & Lovers: The Ski Trip 2||Unique|
|2013||Kick-Ass 2||Coach Podell|
|Ain't Misbehavin' (The 30th Anniversary Cast Recording)|
|Love in the Nick of Tyme||
|2013||"In the End ( Alright)"||Non-album single|
|2013||"Where Do They Go?"||Non-album single|
|"Truth Hall"||2009||None||Truth Hall|
|"Brazil You're Ready (Synethetic)"||2014||Guy Scheiman||Brazil You're Ready (Synethetic) [feat. Trenyce] [Part 1]|
|"This Time"||2016||Guy Scheiman||"This Time (feat. Trenyce) - Single"|
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