Her music is undeniably soulful, old school R&B at its best with a tinge of jazz and blues. In among the plethora of 1999 releases, Trina Boussard's debut "Inside My Love" stnads head and shoulders above the rest. Personally, I've been listening to it since I got an advance copy many months and it's never left my CD player. It's not just the voice although the voice moves effortlessly from earthy to sweet. And it's not just the songs, most of which the Houston-born songstress wrote or co-wrote. It's the overall 'feel' of the album from the bluesy "All I Need Is You" to the plaintive "Why Do I Feel So Sad," the catchy "Losin' My Mind" (co-written with fellow retro-soul star Rahsaan Patterson). In today's markeplace, it will be interesting to see how Trina fares: fortunately, the likes of Erykah Badu, Kenny Lattimore, Eric Benét and others have helped pave the way for authentic R&B with a '90s flavor so it's just a question of ensuring that the word is out that Trina's first album has finally arrived.
We say 'finally' because the mere process of completing it has taken more than a minute. In fact, as Trina recounts, "I started picking songs and recording in December of 1996..." . It looked like the album would make it to the streets in the early part of this year until the-powers-that-be decided to add one more track, Trina's current single, "Love You So Much," a song she co-wrote with Trey Lorenz (artist-in-his-own right and former backup singer for Mariah Carey) which was produced by Jermaine Dupri, who just happens to own So So Def, Trina's label home (best known for artists like Xscape).
But given her musical history, Trina understands that timing is everything. Music was an inescapable part of her early life: her mother was a singer and jazz pianist, her father a guitarist who played in several big bands. In school, Trina sang with various choirs and sang in a local group with an elder brother. "As a child, I was actually very shy," she confides. "Once I was onstage, I was o.k. but one-on-one...that was different story." Her musical influences included "old Aretha material, The Emotions, Deniece Williams, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway , Earth, Wind & Fire and Minnie Riperton" and convinced by the response she would get onstage playing at Houston clubs with the local group she fronted, Trina made a move towards a professional career in 1991.
"I was supposed to have a meeting with an industry executive...and I got there five minutes late!" she recalls. Fortunately, the meeting was taking place at a recording studio and next door was none other than Bobby Brown whose musical director at the time (Dennis Austin) invited her into Brown's session. "I had only been in Atlanta for a month-and-a-half and I was working," she says. "I was very blessed because I got to tour with Bobby for about a year-and-a-half... Working with Bobby, I made a lot of connections and I learned a lot of things [about the business."
Other work with the likes of Pebbles, BeBe & CeCe Winans, Alyson Williams, Toni Braxton, Usher and for the "Boomerang" soundtrack followed and pretty soon, the wird around Atlanta was that Trina could add that special vocal something to recording sessions. Inevitably, Dupri heard about Trina: Trey Lorenz was responsible for introducing the pair and Trina did some demo work for the young and succeesful hitmaker. "At one point, things got kinda slow for me in Atlanta and I was thinking about going back to Houston," says Trina. "Trey was helping me out with my own demo and Jermaine heard what we were doing and got very excited when he heard [the songs] "All Night Long"and "All I Need Is You" which Trey and I had worked on together..."
No sooner had Trina signed with Dupri's So So Def than she was in the studio doing a cover of the Minnie Riperton classic "Inside My Love" for the 'love jones' soundtrack: "I was afraid of doing the song over because I don’t believe in going over things that have already been done so well. But I got to do the song my own way and I was allowed to produce it myself with [musical collaborator] Israel Embry..." It was the public's first taste of Trina's potent vocal style and aside from a contribution to a So So Def Christmas project, the last...until now. In between recording for her own album, Trina managed to co-wrote "Here We Go Again" for Aretha Franklin's 1998 "A Rose Is Still A Rose" set and she notes, "I was very honored!"
The honors now seem to belong to Trina: her first album is a complete piece of work and has a rare musical consistency to it. "I wanted to make music that had a timeless quality to it," she notes. "When I was growing up everyone had their own individuality, artists like Stevie Wonder who made full albums, where it was about making a complete record not just coming up with hits. I know I'm here to sell records and the record company is always going to say, 'we want hits.' But when I record, I think about what I feel..."
Trina says she's grateful that other young artists like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill "have opened the door for female artists like myself. It's interesting because they have control of their own destiny and I believe real singers and live music is coming back...and I'm ready!" She certainly is....and judging from the wonderful tracks on "Inside My Love" (including standouts "Remember Me," "Sailing" and "Say You Really Love Me"), a whole lot of real music lovers are ready to hear her too!
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.