Interview with Trin-i-tee 5:7
Sealed With A Kiss...
After a two-year hiatus, Trin-i-tee 5:7 is back on the scene. With a new album (see album review), new sound, and increased stability, the trendy girl group is ready to embark upon their latest tour of duty.
— interview by Gerard Bonner —
While preparing for a performance in New York's Central Park, group lead Chanelle Haynes spent some time with Gospelflava.com and provided some insight into the growth of the trio.
"We've definitely become a lot stronger spiritually because of the test, the trials, and the triumphs and everything that we've experienced," says Haynes. "It unites us even the more. We made this little pact that no one will end this group. No one will make a decision and say that Trin-i-tee is over. Not the record company, not management, not distribution, not anyone. When Trin-i-tee 5:7 decides to dissolve, that's when it'll happen.”
“People ask, 'Does anyone want to do a solo project?'....When we decide. It'll be our choice and our decision. These things have made us strong and we're together. We've made it clear to each other that we're all going to get out of this what we desire and then move on to the next stage."
Not unlike other female groups in the music community, Trin-i-tee 5:7 has undergone its share of transitions in personnel. Yet, the ladies believe that they have identified what keeps a girl group together.
"It definitely takes trust and honesty among the group members," admits Haynes. "[The group] is a marriage. You're getting to know them. If they disappoint you in any way or if you're mislead in any way, it's damaging. I can truly say that the girls and I, as it stands, have so much trust, love, and respect for one another. We don't just talk to each other any kind of way. We don't just make decisions on behalf of the other person. When you feel like you're thought of, you respond in that way. We have such a high level of respect for each other which walks hand in hand with trusting each other. I can go to another country and know that Adrian [Anderson] is taking care of business in the States."
With two top selling albums under their belt and ten years of experience together as a group, it can be challenging to re-enter the scene with fresh and exciting music. However, the ladies have an interesting source that keeps them in the loop musically.
Album: Trin-i-tee 5:7
"Dance Like Sunday" features writing and production from Fred Jerkins and Lashawn Daniels. This is vintage Trin-i-tee 5:7, complete with a hot dance vibe and the celebratory message.....|
See full album review.
"I have a youth center in the city of New Orleans with a teen class of about twenty to twenty-five students. I talk to them a lot," states Haynes. "They're very aware of what's going on in the music industry. They may not know their school work like they should. But I talk to them and they pour into me. Besides that, the girls and I stay pretty well connected and involved with current music. We don't deposit a lot of garbage in ourselves. I don't care if it's a really hot track. If it's garbage, it's garbage. But we look for excellent music and it comes in all forms. It comes in the form of country, R&B, classical, and jazz."
Trin-i-tee also realizes that staying fresh and innovative means developing songs that are a little different than the norm.
"There are so many different facets to Christianity and the walk of Christianity," realizes Haynes. "We want to talk about issues and take different angles that are not common in gospel music."
In order to do this, the trio began to work with different writers to accomplish this goal. Their mission is realized with the song "With A Kiss" as they tackle unchartered territory.
"Shep Crawford is the songwriter and producer of this song. This guy is known for writing these extraordinary stories with such a unique appeal to them," says Haynes. "So when he came with the idea of the kiss of Judas, we said that this was outstanding. No one really sings about that night. That night changed history. When Judas betrayed Him and Jesus recognized he was going to do it, He said, 'Whatever you're going to do, do it quick'. And we [the group] do that to each other. It's like if I know that [one of the girls] is going to do something to me....just do it. That's how we respond. That's how Jesus responded to Judas."
The ladies of Trin-i-tee 5:7 are no strangers to controversy. With a less than traditional look and a distinctly urban appeal, this trio has dealt with their share of backlash regarding their presentation of the gospel.
"They like to assume that we dress a certain way and whatever. Fashion and imaging has always been controversial for Trin-i-tee 5:7 because we don't wear choir robes," exclaims Haynes.
"My grandmother wears choir robes and she's just as adorable in them. I encourage her. She's so cute in it with her little chapel cap on, but I don't wear that. I wear my denim jeans from Melrose in LA. I go to Saks. I shop in Bloomingdale's and Niemann & Marcus. These are the places where the girls and I go for fashion. No, all of our songs are not about spiritual things all of the time. Most of it is. But at the same time, we're living beings. We're women. We're girls that have experienced a lot of different things in life and we reflect that in our music."
While they have no problem pushing the envelope, they did encounter a scenario that had potential to be too much, even for them. Few realize that the track "What He Wants" (on The Kiss) was originally titled "Putting Your Mouth On Me".
"The lyric in the song is 'careful 'bout puttin' your mouth on me' which is an old saying that your grandmother used a long, long time ago," admits Haynes. "There were a couple of people behind the scenes that said, 'Whoa...that [song title] would be cool. It's controversial. People will want to be keen to want to know the story and hear the song.' The girls and I were like we don't want to go through that. We already experienced a challenge with 'My Body'. Everyone was really extreme with that and wondered what in the world Trin-i-tee was doing. Even though the song was a major success, we talked to Dawkins & Dawkins and said that we didn't want that title so let's find something else in the song and use that as the title. So we went with 'What He Wants'".
Though the song itself dealt endured a name change, the lyrics and message of the song remains true. It speaks to people talking bad about other Christians without recognizing the anointing that rests on that Christian's life.
"It is ridiculous, sad, and distasteful for people that call themselves a child of the King to speak bad of their siblings," declares Haynes. "If I am your sister, why would you go out into the world and sow discord about me trying to live for God the best way I know how. I don't claim to be perfect. In the song, we say that 'you're throwing rocks at a glass house.' So just be careful about talking about a child of God. In the Bible when people would do that, horrible things would happen to them. It's an abomination to sow discord. God hates that so why should we do that."
Trin-i-tee 5:7 is focused on delivering a message of hope, passion, and encouragement to young women around the world by any means necessary....even if it's outside the proverbial "nine dots". Knowing that The Kiss will raise 'The People's Eyebrow', they stand confident and focused on their message.
"We're known for our titles and things like that. Our objective is to appeal to our peers," acknowledges Haynes. "We're going to give them what they want without compromising the Word of God. We're not talking about any kiss. This is about the kiss of betrayal between Jesus and Judas. In this lifetime, if you haven't experienced it already, someone closest to you will betray you or hurt you somehow. So you've got to know that in the end, you will be victorious and you will reign with Christ in heaven if you endure the race. But don't let that person who got close to you and betrayed you with that kiss discourage you from making it to heaven."
Trin-i-tee laces the album with hot producers and writers that help to convey this special message of hope. Haynes says that the group found favor with the producers who all were considerate of their craft, wishes, and desires for the project. One of the writers that they were ecstatic to work with was God's Property alumnus, Myron Butler.
"Myron Butler is someone that we're very proud of. Myron has worked in the shadow of Kirk Franklin since God's Property. I think he's just amazing," says Haynes. "He's one of those talents that I wish people in the Christian world would embrace more. There are so many young guys out there like that who just need an opportunity. On this album, we said we're going to have a slot open for someone who will appreciate the opportunity of selling at least 500,000 records with their name on it and with their music. We left that slot open for Myron Butler."
While those that worked on this project looks more like a list of "Who's Hot" on Billboard's top producers list, there are two mainstays that are noticeably missing from this venture. The first two outings for Trin-i-tee saw them teaming with Kirk Franklin and R. Kelly. Both are absent from this project.
"There were so many songs pitched at us for this album. I mean Tony Rich and so many other people that you wouldn't even think of that wanted to be a part of this album, Kirk Franklin being one. However, Kirk was very, very consumed with his album at the time. He was very busy.”
“However, we did record a song with Kirk for [P. Diddy’s] upcoming Gospel album," states Haynes. "We recorded the song with Kirk during the time of our recording of our album. The song just didn't go on our album, " says Haynes.
"When we were seeking to work with R. Kelly, prior to the litigation he's experiencing right now, he was on tour in Europe. So we weren't able to connect with him. Then, obviously, once everything happened with him, it was just virtually impossible for us to make that happen."
The group is also preparing to tour in support of the new project. In fact, they will be participating in two to three tours through the remainder of the year throughout both Gospel and CCM markets. The first tour will see them share the stage with Tonéx, Men of Standard, and Ray Bady, on the so-called “Evolution Tour”.
Labelling their music as "heart songs", Trin-i-tee 5:7 wants to make a lasting impression on all of their listeners. Not just are they singers but they have all co-written songs on the new project. In addition, all of the ladies are active in their communities and participate in non-profit organizations designed to empower and enrich their environment.
Adrian Anderson has created "Be an Angel: Wear Your Halo" foundation which reaches out to struggling mothers. Angel Taylor has a literacy program where she speaks to churches and encourages literacy. Taylor has even funded a library at a local church. Haynes runs St. Michael's Youth Center which reaches 75 children in New Orleans. It encompasses a dance center and activities that will impact the lives of young people.
Trin-i-tee realizes that there are misconceptions about the group and is willing to address them.
"They think that we're singing Gospel for fun. They think we get a kick out of it or something," admits Haynes. "The truth is that we're businesswomen. Before we are singers, we are businesswomen. We have our corporations individually and we have one collectively called Trius, Inc. It's a for profit organization and we talk about how we're going to advance. We talk about establishing a trust fund. We make sure that we have a business center. We're very serious about making sure that when we don't sing another note, we're very comfortable and we have made a difference in this world. We're not going to stop until we make sure that happens."
"No, we're not just fun girls who kick around, laugh, and eat apple pie and ice cream, which we do eat a lot of," laughs Haynes. "However, in those meetings, we take care of business."
At times misunderstood, there's no denying that Trin-i-tee 5:7 is focused on their God-given assignment. With a heart for young people and a passion to win the lost, the group is willing to take criticism in exchange for souls.
"It's not so much about us. We're speaking on behalf of all of those young Christians out there that are struggling, trying to live for God. Then there are those people that have been in the church their whole life and have become callous and insensitive to these young people that are coming to the ministry because they have their own way of worshipping God," continues Haynes.
"I feel like this...the Word of God is what brings life and is what's going to save you. Once you get the principles in your heart and in your life, there's nothing nobody can say that can turn you around because the Word of God is embedded inside of you. That's what we encourage."
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