The Florence, SC-bred crooner, who has worked with Carey from as far back as 1990, has released two solo R&B CDs over the years – 1993's 'Trey Lorenz' and 2006's ''Mimi Presents: Mr. Mista.'
Vowing to release a CD that his "parents would listen to," Lorenz will release his gospel debut 'Destined 2 Be 1' early next year.
BV Buzz caught up with the 41-year-old crooner for lunch at La Conversation in West Hollywood to find out about his new endeavor.
Why a gospel album and why now?
First of all, I love Jesus and I grew up in the church. I think it's an idea that takes time to come to and that's the main reason. When I started working with my new management team they wanted me to name some of the things that I wanted to do and where do I see myself going. There are a lot of things that I love to do, but one thing I am passionate about and have wanted to do for awhile is a gospel CD. I always said that even though Whitney Houston did 'The Preacher's Wife' I really wished she had done a gospel project in the early 90's or the late 80's along with a live project. She is one of my favorite artists.
A lot of R&B singers who sing gospel don't execute it well and their gospel CDs sound like bad 80's R&B. What is your gospel going to sound like?
It's still a work in progress. I'm going to foremost sing stuff that I can be sincere about. I'm a writer as well so I have also been writing. I also want to do stuff that people can learn from essentially learning from my experience and things that I have gone through. Not that I have ever been a controversial artist or anything like that and on the two projects that I have had there has always been an inspirational song. It has come through all along.
You're a church boy from the south. How does your family feel about you doing this gospel record?
I think it's the prayers from my mother and my family that have always been like, 'Why do you feel like you have to do R&B?' I was like, 'Y'all had the records that I grew up on at the house.' I also love Motown because I'm an old soul and I love all of the old stuff. One thing that I feel is missing from a lot of music today is up uplifting lyrics. We do have some people that do it and I applaud them, but back in the day The O'Jays would have songs like 'Family Reunion' or something as simple as that. Sly and the Family Stone, The Emotions, Earth, Wind & Fire and The Staples Singers all had songs that were uplifting. Even Alicia Keys, because that's why she brought Kim Burrell out for 'If I Ain't Got You' at the BET Awards. I just feel like I'm maturing and I see that when I do things and I'm prayerful about it spiritually everything seems to go right. As a testimony to that, since I decided to do this project, 'Destined 2 Be 1,' which is distributed by Sony, everything has been falling into place.
The gospel community can be like a country club and they're funny about accepting artists from mainstream music. Did that worry you at all?
Coming from the secular world, sometimes you're also a little nervous or insecure about how you'll be perceived. It's really not about that for me at all. It's about me wanting to sing about what God has done for me and what He has brought me through and from. [Recently] I saw Yolanda Adams, whose spirit I love because she is always like a ray of light. She asked me what I was doing and I told her that I was working on an inspirational/gospel project. I told her I am working with J. Moss' musical director Floyd Thomas and she said, 'That's family. Let me know if there's anything that you need and I'm there!' Marvin Sapp and Donald Lawrence wanted to do something with my project, so just to see that embrace was great.
What other gospel artists do you enjoy?
For the most part, the only thing I listen to nowadays is gospel music. The Clark Sisters are like my favorites. I listen to J. Moss, Kiki Sheard, Kim Burrell, Men of Standard, John P. Kee and other people too, but those are the ones I know all of their songs. I forgot to mention that I listen to Mary Mary all the time. They were very instrumental in my want to do this because the thing is I knew that I wasn't really gonna do a straight up church album. That might come in time, but I like to dance also and they have kind of made it cool. I think Kiki did that as well through working with certain producers like Rodney Jerkins and the Campbell's. I'm just glad that it's more of a balance now with young kids. They are trying to give you something else other than a recreation of whoever is hot right now and that cookie-cutter. Everybody can't be Beyonce or R. Kelly. They are doing them fine and those are people that can be imitated, but not duplicated! I think that's one of the reasons that the music industry is at such a low because they really aren't giving people quality product. If they were doing that then I think would be buy music. I still buy music, but not the way I used to. I used to be so excited to read the album cover. I wanted to see who wrote this particular song.
Speaking of Beyonce, you also have worked with her, Usher, TLC, Selena and some others in addition to the work you've done with Mariah.
Even though people associate me with Mariah, I've also done shows with Beyonce and I love her work ethic, professionalism and what she brings to the game. But there are others I would love to work with. It looks like one of my dream collaborations might happen, which would be to work with Yolanda Adams and I'm really excited about that. I would really like to work with a Motown artist. I'd love to work with Karen Clark Sheard. Hold on, let me get deeper by saying that I would love to work with Gamble & Huff and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, who I know. That would be exciting too because I love Janet Jackson too. I really wish they would get back with Janet. I would even like to work with some eighties artists.
The Jackson 5 song. You two also sang that at Michael Jackson's memorial last year. What was that moment like for you?
It was almost surreal and almost still feels like it never even happened. The crazy thing about it is that beforehand we were backstage and so many people kept coming by and speaking and then I went in the room with Mariah. Normally, we're just clowning, but since it was a memorial we had to be more serious and make it more geared toward Michael and that's how we kinda came up with the ending. Throughout this whole process no one came up to us to say that it was a funeral. We were thinking it was just a tribute. Usher was supposed to be there, Jennifer Hudson and those people. We just thought we were gonna be singing his songs so we'll do that. Then the curtain opened and it was a casket there it was just like whoa. Mariah couldn't even play it off because she was just choked up by the whole experience, which is understandable. I just remember that the casket was there. I hate singing at funerals period, but just imagine singing at one of your icon's funerals. It just doesn't seem like it happened, but it was an honor. I'm happy that I got to have that experience.
For related stories, read: 'Live Strong: SWV Singer Coko Shares Personal Pain on New CD'
'Phillip Bryant: Lil' Mo's Husband to Make Gospel Debut'
& 'BLACK MUSIC MONTH: 7 Gospel CDs You Must Revisit.'
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