Cornfed’s Corner: Trina Broussard on Surviving So So Def (Pt. 1)

lmgWelcome to the ear of the people, the ear of soul, the Cornfed's Corner. It's hard to believe but this March marked eleven years since writer/director Theodore Witcher's film classic, Love Jones, defined what it meant to be young, Black, bougie and bohemian for a generation. More than an indie movie phenom, the soundtrack from Love Jones-the first bonafide neo-soul soundtrack-was to us Gen Xers what classic soundtracks like Shaft, Superfly and The Big Chill, had been to our bellbottomed elders a generation before.
lmgWelcome to the ear of the people, the ear of soul, the Cornfed's Corner. It's hard to believe but this March marked eleven years since writer/director Theodore Witcher's film classic, Love Jones, defined what it meant to be young, Black, bougie and bohemian for a generation. More than an indie movie phenom, the soundtrack from Love Jones-the first bonafide neo-soul soundtrack-was to us Gen Xers what classic soundtracks like Shaft, Superfly and The Big Chill, had been to our bellbottomed elders a generation before. Maxwell, Lauryn Hill, Dionne Farris, Cassandra Wilson, Groove Theory (Wow, Bryce, we hardly knew you...) almost everybody who was anybody in 90s nu-soul sung on Love Jones (well, Jill, Erykah and D'Angelo weren't, but I'm sure some horrible major label Evilene is behind that gross oversight!). On a near perfect collection of stars and songs, standing out proved a tall order.

One little lady from Texas, however, managed to pulled it off with her stunning rendition of Minnie Riperton's "Inside My Love." Her name is Trina Broussard and her cover of the Riperton classic stole our hearts. Following the radio and critical success of the album cut, Jermaine Dupri's urban label, So So Def, announced a debut album for Broussard, causing eyebrows to raise at the chosen venue, but hearts to quicken at the thought of hearing a full project from a voice that personified the sophistication of Love Jones. Trina was to be So So Def's first real foray into the Adult Contemporary market, making Trina the first mature female vocalist to ever come out of So So Def (think very, very carefully before you count Xscape, like, for real). Of course with lil bit at the helm, we should have known So So Def would lose their nerve. After a warm reception for the first single, "Love You So Much," So So Def inexplicably shelved Inside My Love.

In 2004, Motown finally gave Trina a debut with the delightful Same Girl, but failed to promote it. Now ten years after it was due, UK's Expansion Records released the original Trina Broussard debut, Inside My Love, this summer. With intricately layered brilliance like, "Sailing," the project lives up to a decade of expectations, smartly setting up Trina's forthcoming project Life of a Libra album and it's creator for long deserved success. In between getting Libra ready for its close-up and traveling the globe in support of artists like Rahsaan Patterson, Trina stopped by the parlor for some sweet tea and gossip, offering us a real treat. After all these years, you know Miss Trina had a lot to say. So, she'll be back next week to serve us up a double helping of Trina. We got newcomers Heston and Wayna comin' up soon, ya'll. So, ‘til then grab a milk crate, fill that Mason jar, and get yo'self corn-fed.

Intimate Moment on IM: Trina Broussard

C.C.: Girl, where have you been? You know folks have been missing you!

Trina: I've been around!!! Just trying to be quiet so I can HEAR to finish this CD! If that makes sense to you.

C.C.: Fa sho. We get it.

Trina: I most certainly appreciate the LOVE I get during my M.I.A. moments.

C.C.: Your fans have been showing you love while you're on the Q-t?

Trina: Yes!!! I always get some type of message on MySpace regarding my past projects or just the love they show me for my gift!

C.C.: Now that's what's up! So, you know we gotta talk about all those career trials and tribulations, but before we go there, I'm curious about something. How has coming from a family of working musicians influenced you and has it kept you grounded in music through the upheavals in your career?

Trina: Coming from a family of musicians, music was [as normal as for me as]...getting up brushing your teeth everyday! I was around music 24/7. My mom was a lover of Aretha, Ray Charles and many others. My father always played George Benson. I looked forward to coming home from school getting a new record from my mom. That is what I considered a TREAT! I feel blessed to have been born at a time where we had a GREAT variety of music to choose from. With that being said-when there were or are moments in my career that seem distorted- I've got Donny, Stevie, Chaka and a host of great artists that can minister to me when I'm in a crazy place! Good music keeps me grounded, period!

C.C.: As a background singer for artists like Rahsaan Patterson, you've been supporting independent minded artists for years; how has their example inspired you and your music?

Trina: Freedom! When I see them perform there are no boundaries. What you hear and see is truly what they are about in some shape, form or fashion. They are NOT going to do it if it does not represent who they are! I admire that. It's something I have always been about. So, seeing them only magnifies my appreciation.

C.C.: There is a lot of disparate influences in your music. You're friends and co-writers with Trey Lorenz, Ra Re Valverde, and Rashaan Patterson, three very different voices in soul. Where does your sound fit in this wide range and where does it come from?

Trina: Wow! I really have to think about that one. A fit, hmmm, I've never thought about it. I'm a person who goes off of emotions and that could range from the sound of a baby's cry to the political injustice that I see in my community.

C.C.: So, you try to express these ideas vocally?

Trina: Yes, I'm staring to do that, respectfully.

C.C.: Capisce. So, take us back to So So Def, chile; what happened? You were coming off a major hit with your cover of "Inside Your Love" for the Love Jones soundtrack, co-wrote a hit for Aretha Franklin's comeback, and your debut album was supposed to get released and then it seemed like they shelved you for no reason. Did Jermaine Dupri's people just not know how to market you or what?

Trina: I'll say this...you can't change one thing that will always be, that is family!!! It was a lot going on from a political standpoint and [with] Jermaine's dad being in the loop!

C.C.: Now you know we gotta be nosey, what were those politics, Ms. Trina? And how did lil bit's Dad fit in?

Trina: He [Jermaine's Dupri's father] was the head of the Urban Dept. at the time. It was so much going on that it would take an agent, a publisher and good signing bonus for this novel!

C.C.: So, you ain't givin' up the goods in other words? Cause all I got is a plate of collards and some cornbread for that scoop. LOL

Trina: LOL. The key word I use with this prestigious platform is, "respectfully." I'm saving it for the book!! I'm joking, much love to Jermaine Dupri! If it had not been for him many people wouldn't even know me from the Love Jones soundtrack. It was him who came to me with the idea for the song! I really grateful that he did!

C.C.: Hmmm, she's suspiciously loyal to Dupri, ya'll. But, you do have a point, Miss. Trina. Ok, we'll bite. (Heavy sigh)...I guess we can appreciate lil' bit's contribution, because it did get us loving u, after all. LOL

Trina: I'm really grateful that he did!

CC: Aiight, we won't push any further on the particulars, but you make sure you get that big book advance, ya hear? Afterwards, if you wanna drop us a hint or two, we can munch on those juicy morsels you're keeping for more than a minute. Moving along; what does it mean to be shelved, financially and contractually? Is there any recourse for an artist?

Trina: To be shelved has a couple of dynamics to it. 1) You put your heart and soul into something and suddenly it comes to stop at the hands of people who really could care less about your craft or anything beyond that! 2) You have to continue to find ways to stay connected to the music financially while you are standing next to a dressing room door asking "what other size" the consumer wants. It's all a humbling experience! I have been blessed to continue to gig for myself and sing backup for other artists. That helps, but it hasn't always been a walk in the park.

C.C.: So, when you speak of size are you talking about from a musical standpoint or a visual marketing one?

Trina: When I speak of size, I mean working retail and trying to do the music at the same time!

C.C.: Wow, okay. So, you had to get a 9 to 5 after getting shelved?

Trina: Yes I did. That was years ago, but the reality is that is what I had to do to stay connected. People still do it today!

C.C.: Spiritually and emotionally, how does one survive the devastation?

Trina: You have to know where [your gift] comes from and WHO gave it to you! There were moments of disappointment, but you have to make it just that-a MOMENT and then try to move on to the next phase in your life. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I have always had good, honest people in my life who don't cut corners with me and keep me accountable for everything I do-good and bad-so that really helped me to make it through...[To Be Continued]

Next week: Trina on surviving Motown, the Inside My Love comeback & her new CD, Life of a Libra!

Cornfed Notes

Track Love: 12 "New" EPs, Singles and Album Cuts Worth Your Gas Money

Track/EP

Artist/
Duo/Group

Project

Available To Buy?

Genre(s)

Radio

Bradd Marquis

Finding My Way

Yes

R&B

Fever

Platinum
Pied Pipers

Triple P

Yes

Hip-Hop/Soul

Moonlight Serenade

Sir Wick (feat. Sedalia Marie)

An Interpretation of Universal Language

Yes

Soul/

Smooth Jazz

Sobriety

Jesse Boykins III

(feat. Jade Foster)

Dopamine: My Life On My Back

Yes

Progressive Soul

Seal My Heart

Sir Wick (feat. Sedalia Marie)

An Interpretation of Universal Language

Yes

Soul/

Smooth Jazz

First Kiss

Chante Moore

Love The Woman

Yes

Soul

Feel So Good

Dwele

Sketches Of A Man

Yes

Progressive Soul

Step Aside

Incognito

Tales From The Beach

Yes

NuSoul/Jazz

All I Wanna Do

Jamie Lidell

Jim

Yes

Retro/Soul

Home

Wayna

Higher Ground

Yes

ProgressiveSoul

Heavenly

Jennie Laws

Introducing Jennie Laws

Yes

Soul

Breathe

The Cinematic Orchestra

Ma Fleur

Yes

Electronica/
Progressive Soul

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L. Michael Gipson is a cultural critic, music journalist and a lover of all underdogs; poverty becomes him

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Lemar, Tim Dillinger and more

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