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 University of Memphis on a music scholarship. She dropped out of 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 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', and the cast album was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.
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. Trenyce moved to Macau, China, to host the Franco Dragone-produced, cabaret show Taboo at the casino City of Dreams.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Artistry
- 3 Credits
- 4 Discography
- 5 References
- 6 External links
1980–2002: Early life
Trenyce was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in the northern Memphis area. Her father, Jesse, was a worker for St. Joe Company, and her mother, Linda, worked at FedEx. She has one older sister, and one younger. As a child, she choose to be known by her middle name as she felt it better suited her ambitions as a performer. She expressed an interest in music at a young age, and performed a solo in a musical production celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. During high school, she modeled her voice and image after Whitney Houston. In her senior year, Trenyce participated in the NAACP ACT-SO after her music teacher submitted one of her recordings. Trenyce advanced to the finals in Atlanta, Georgia, where she received Babyface's business card, performed for Jennifer Holliday, and won first place in the competition. Her mother was initially uncertain about Trenyce's commitment to pursuing a music career, but later decided to support her professionally as her manager. At the age of nineteen, Trenyce was arrested on felony theft charges, and was taken into custody. At the request of a Shelby County criminal court judge, she completed a pre-trial diversion program that expunged the charges from her record. She described the arrest as resulting from a miscommunication in which she confronted a co-worker about stealing from work.
Trenyce attended the University of Memphis on a music scholarship. While in college, she severed professional ties with her mother and hired a professional agent. Trenyce joined the university's ensemble choir University Singers and its band Sound Fuzion, which toured throughout Tennessee. Through the encouragement of her mother, she pursued a major in biology in order to become a "bone specialist" as an alternative for singing. After completing three years of the school's nursing program, Trenyce left the University of Memphis to devote herself to music full time. While Linda supported her daughter's decision, she advised her that she should return to the nursing program if she did not find success in the music business after a year. Trenyce began writing and recording songs, meeting with professionals in the music industry and teaching herself the technical aspects of singing and recording.
2002–03: American Idol
In October 2002, Trenyce auditioned for the second season of the reality television series American Idol. The audition took place over a course of three days in Nashville, Tennessee, in which she performed in front of the show's producers and executive producers; she was selected by the three primary judges (Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and Simon Cowell) to proceed in the competition. She then went on to become one of the top 32 semi-finalists, and was chosen as Abdul's "Wildcard" selection to perform as a finalist. Trenyce placed fifth in the season after being the eighth contestant eliminated during the finals. Trenyce's arrest was disclosed to the public during her time on the show, and she was placed under close scrutiny. Producer Nigel Lythgoe denied accusations that Trenyce would be removed from the series, as previously done with former contestants Frenchie Davis and Jaered Andrews. Lythgoe clarified that Trenyce informed producers of her criminal history from the beginning of the show, and it would not impact her participation. Jim Cantiello of MTV News listed the disclosure of Trenyce's mug shot and felony theft charges as one of American Idol's frequent "season scandals". Cantiello connected the newly revealed information to Trenyce's elimination, writing "America ends up doing the show's dirty work by voting her off". 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 American Idol, along with season four finalist Vonzell Solomon.
|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 several appearances on television shows, such as 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, and featured as one of Memphis' 30 Most Beautiful People in Elite Magazine's June 2003 issue. After the second season finale of American Idol, Trenyce embarked on a three-month concert tour alongside the other finalists. She performed Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" and Houston's "I Have Nothing". Trenyce's 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 for having an "indistinct quality". Trenyce was also featured on a cover of "God Bless the USA" along with the other American Idol Season 2 finalists. During an interview with Lime Music, Trenyce said she was offered a record deal around the time of her appearances on American Idol, but rejected it due to her belief that the contract was bad.
2004–09: Transition to musical theatre
Trenyce's work in theatre primarily focused on "various entertainment aspects of African-American interest". In 2004, Trenyce made her theatre debut as Yancey in Not A Day Goes By, a play adapted from the E. Lynn Harris' 2000 novel of the same name. The play was produced as a national tour conducted by ALW Entertainment and AJ Peaches Entertainment, and ran from January–May 2004. She later performed parts in the episodic play The Vagina Monologues, and Nicci Gillbert's stage play Soul Kittens Cabaret. She acted in another Gillbert play by embarking on a national tour of Mama's Sweet Potato Pie. Trenyce played Deena Jones in an Indianapolis production of the musical Dreamgirls, which ran from from June–July 2006. In the same year, she became the first American Idol contestant to headline a show in Las Vegas with V: The Ulimtate Vareity Show at Sahara Hotel and Casino.
In 2007, Trenyce played Portia in David E. Talbert's play Love in the Nick of Tyme, which coincided with Talbert's fifteenth-anniversary of working in theatre. Trenyce performed alongside actors Ellia English and Morris Chestnut. On September 7, 2010, the production was released on DVD, along with its soundtrack. The play was also broadcast on BET. In the following year, she did performances 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 of the film Truth Hall.
Trenyce went to portray a role in the thirty-anniversary revival tour of Ain't Misbehavin' ; the character was identified as the breakout role for Irene Cara, Nell Carter, and Debbie Allen. Trenyce was added to the revival following her former American Idol co-star Ruben Studdard's recommendation. She said her time on the musical helped her to research and understand Fats Waller and his music, and felt a close attachment to his musical legacy. During the tour, Trenyce worked with singer Frenchie Davis, who had also appeared on the second season of American Idol. The cast album received a nomination for Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, but lost to the cast recording for the 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story.
2010–present: Continued success with theatre
From 2010 until 2013, Trenyce starred in the Michael Jackson tribute musical Thriller – Live as the lead, female vocalist during a European tour. She reprised her role when the show was featured on West End. She was the only female singers in the show, and the only American lead. During this time, media outlets noted that Trenyce worked closely with singer R. Kelly. In 2010, she sang during the interludes and dance performances for Ballroom with a Twist. Trenyce performed on a rotating basis along with other American Idol finalists, such as LaKisha Jones, Vonzell Solomon, Mikalah Gordon, Gina Glocksen, and David Hernandez. In 2012, she provided for Baff Akoto's short film Afterglow; the film follows a group of friends as they navigate jazz culture in London.
She had a minor role in the 2013 superhero comedy film Kick-Ass 2 as Hit-Girl's cheerleading coach. While living in London, Trenyce was contacted by her agent to audition for the part. According to her agent, the role was originally pitched as a rough forty Sue Sylvester-type, and Trenyce initially raised doubts on whether or not she would get the part. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Trenyce discussed plans to design headphones and release original music after creating a band. She previously shared music through Soundcloud and YouTube. On December 2 and 9 of the same year, she released three songs ("Fever", "In the End ( Alright)", and "Where Do They Go?").
Trenyce moved to Macau, China, in 2015 to host Taboo, a cabaret show designed by Franco Dragone. The show was staged in the casino City of Dreams; Trenyce was given creative control over selection of genres and songs. Australian singer Cassie McIvor replaced Trenyce as the host for the 2016 season of Taboo, entitled The Show of Secret Fantasies. Trenyce was later featured as the guest artist on two remix extended plays of 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".
She expressed admiration for Whitney Houston for her "tone, looks, regality, [and] poise". When explaining the process behind selecting to sing "I Have Nothing" for the movie week of American Idol, she said that it was an easy decision because she studied Houston's music since she was eight years old. She commented: "I'd studied her while growing up because she was the first beautiful, young singer I'd seen whose tone I matched! I adored her. She seemed majestic, almost like a Disney Princess, and I always wanted to be her." Urban Milwaukee's Brian Jacobson noted that a majority of Trenyce's song choice during American Idol were from other black singers. She has stated that she wants to sing more songs in the style of Houston's cover of "I Will Always Love You".
Trenyce's other musical influences include Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, and Beyoncé. She has stated that she was inspired by Adele's music, saying: "she did not do a dance record, she went against the grain and so that is what I want to do." She credited Michael Jackson as "the epitome of greatness when it comes to being an all-around entertainer". When recounting her experiences on American Idol, she had said that she was the most impressed with Paula Abdul out of the three main judges, and was inspired by her music, dancing, and personal strength.
Outside of music, Trenyce has expressed admiration for Kerry Washington and Viola Davis. She has described being attracted to acting since her childhood, and said: "I liked being by myself and going into worlds in my mind and living them out. I loved acting, throwing my voice, becoming characters. I would spend a lot of time in my room writing songs, and I was constantly creative."
Trenyce expressed the desire to be viewed as a "multi-faceted" artist", and described her voice as fitting any genre. In an interview with Memphis Downtowner magazine, she discussed her difficulity to commit to a genre and said: "[It] is something I struggled with growing up — and do even now — trying to find a lane that I am most comfortable in, because to be quite honest, I love them all." When talking to Chicagopride.com, she determined that her preferred artistic style was one "blend[ing] both class and sexiness with the modern style of pop and R&B", but wanted to keep herself open to experimentation with her voice. Trenyce defined her musical style as disco and soul. She also identified country music and Western music as her favorite genres due to its focus on song-writing. She said: "[n]o one paints a picture vocally like a country musician."
|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|
|2006||Dreamgirls||Deena Jones||Madame Walker Theatre Center; Scottish Rite Theater
June 22, 2004 – July 2, 2004
|2006||V: The Ulimtate Vareity Show||Host (Late Night Idol)||Sahara Hotel and Casino|
|2007||Love in the Nick of Tyme||Portia||North American tour|
|2009||Ain't Misbehavin'||N/A||North American tour|
|2010–2013||Thriller – Live||Charlaine||European tour; London West End (Lyric Theatre)|
|2010||Ballroom with a Twist'||Vocals||North American tour|
City of Dreams
|2002||American Idol||Herself (contestant)||Season 2 (finalist)|
|2008||Friends & Lovers: The Ski Trip 2||Unique|
|2013||Kick-Ass 2||Coach Podell|
|Love in the Nick of Tyme||N/A|
|Ain't Misbehavin' (The 30th Anniversary Cast Recording)||N/A|
|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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