Teen crooners are not created equal. Many are around to clog up the saturation, while few really own the glow and glory. Ladies er, girls meet your new 2011 crush, 17-year-old charmer Trevanté. Consider this a formal introduction to the falsetto-heavy mini Trey Songz, but know this up-and-coming R&B crooner is far from a rookie. While plenty of us were dashing after the ice cream truck at age 11, Trev was busy inking his first record deal and sharing the tweens-gone-wild stage with Bow Wow, B5 and Keke Palmer. Now, with a more lucrative deal through Imani Entertainment Group/Interscope Records, the ATL transplant is in the midst of prepping his sweet debut I Am Trevanté, due later this year. Get familiar. —Keenan Higgins
VIBE: You did the FYE tour when you were 13-years-old. What did you learn from Bow Wow and B5, who were big acts at the time?
Trevante: I admired B5’s stage presence, along with Bow Wow, and how they worked the staged and interacted with their fans. I was 11, and I thought I was a young MJ [Laughs]. I would pull up my shirt, although I had a “3 pack” at the time. They would scratch me up grabbing for me.
Your inspirations range from MJ and Bobby Brown to NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, all of which have been in boy bands at some point in their career. Why did you decide to start out solo and not be the leader of a group and branch off from there?
That’s a good question. I was definitely influenced by a lot of boy bands, and funny enough I used to pretend in the mirror that I was the leader of a big boy group. I had my brush and I would sing and dance around [Laughs]. But the main focus was just getting me and my voice out there and showing people what I could bring individually. But I definitely wouldn’t put off doing music down the line with like 3 other guys and making music. But for now, I’m just focusing on my solo.
Funny enough, before I saw the pictures on your website and had only heard your music, I said to myself ‘This kid definitely has a bit of a El Debarge sound to his voice’. Then I saw on your page that you actually met him. How did it feel getting a cosign from somebody on his level?
Thank you. I appreciate that compliment because I look up to him so much. Actually, he held me when I was a baby. He and my mom knew each other back when we were living in Houston and he was living in Houston. When I first met him, he walked in the studio and I was literally speechless. I was at a loss for words. He complimented my music and also said that we had similarities in our voices, and I took it as the biggest compliment. To have a legend saying these things, to me, was like the greatest thing.
So going into your image, Mario cut his braids and got a positive response, then Trey Songz cut his braids and got a positive response, and even Ludacris joked that they gave him a Grammy because he cut his braids in his Grammy acceptance speech. Do you see a barber chair in the near future?
No! I can’t do it! [Laughs] It’s funny that you mentioned Mario, because I grew up listening and being inspired by his music. And when he cut his braids I was like ‘NO!’. But yeah, I’m not cutting them off. Maybe when I get older, in a few years or so. But the girls love it, and I love the ladies!
Who is your ideal collaboration musically?
Rihanna. I love Rihanna. Also Lady GaGa and just–I want to make different, good music. But Rihanna is definitely number one.
How complete is your debut album?
It’s done! I’m ready to go!
Ok cool. So what sound can we expect from the forthcoming album?
I call it jukebox music. Like when you go to a jukebox, you get a variety of music options. You get Pop, R&B, all of that. So that’s what I want to bring to my music. A little bit of everything.
Check out Trevante’s first single “Be My Girl” below: