From test, to the testimony, he sang triumphantly into the night…
Photo Credit: Heart The Artist
Growing up in Troy, New York, and already singing on the choir by the age of 6, it seemed that Terrell (T-Rex) Simon was preordained to become a vocalist.
Dawn, one of T-Rex’s longtime friend from church, knew that he was an extremely talented singer. She wanted him to do something with that gift. So, she introduced T-Rex to a guy named Phil, from Sony Music. Phil told him that singer, Lyfe Jennings, was having auditions and suggested that he take a stab at performing.
“It was back in 2003, when Lyfe had just gotten out of prison. I went down to tryout, and it was like nine o’clock in the morning. There were about 100 people there—Lyfe ended up picking me out of everybody,” T-Rex said proudly.
At 23- years of age, T-Rex was touring, and eventually managing one of the most influential singers out… He went on to collaborate with singer, songwriter and producer, Shaleik.
Now, after many years as a road manager, and background singer to numerous artist such as Ne-Yo, and more recently Kee Kee Wyatt, T-Rex is debuting his first album called “#8 (New Beginnings)” during the fall of 2016… However, he released a single from the EP, called, “In His Image.” The song is a contemporary gospel melody that elaborates on how omnipotent God is, and how he, T-Rex, was made in the image of God.
T-Rex is catapulting as a solo- gospel-artist, and he admits that singing secular music doesn’t take away from his relationship with God.
“For me it’s a job, and it’s more about how you live your life. Even though I sing R&B music, Lyfe’s music is inspirational. He sings about God—he puts out a lot of inspiring music,” he said assuredly.
T-Rex actually coined his style of singing as “R&G” Music (Rhythm and Gospel). His gritty and polished reverberation is attracting a lot of attention.
What artist do you want to share the stage with?
Dave Hollister-- we have so much in common.
What do you want your legacy to be?
My legacy? Oh, my God! I’m not even thinking that far ahead. I’m not ready to die... I don’t know (he jokes)! I would want to be known for, as being the best that God could use, and that’s all I can really say. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t be doing this.
Did you have vocal training?
I never had vocal training. I just grew up in a church that had great choir directors and they were really strict on us. If we hit a bad note, they would pull us out and make us sing by ourselves in front of everyone until we got it… The musical genes run in my family. My mom’s dad was a drummer for B.B King. I didn’t find that out until recently. I would ask, “Where did I get this from?" because I never knew of musicians being in my family and my grandmother would say, “Your granddaddy!” I never got a chance to know him or meet him.
How did it make you feel to be a part of Shaleik’s success after you poured stuff that you learned into him—how does it make you feel to see the fruits of your labor?
It was a dream come true. Anything that I do, it’s going to be a success. I’m very careful about what I do, how I do it, and who I work with. I think that my steps are ordered by God, and I knew that when I picked Shaleik, I knew he was gonna get a record deal and he was going to be successful. It was a dream come true. It was like God was saying, “See, I told you.”
What’s the importance of Social Media and getting your brand out?
It’s a new day and time, and record labels don’t put a lot of money into commercials. You rarely see commercials of people’s albums coming out. They’re banding marketers from putting flyers on poles and things around the city. So, your network is basically your followers. If you have 500 followers and you put an album out, only 500 people are going to know about that album. That’s why I go so hard—I’m almost at eighty-thousand followers. Now, and I don’t have a record deal. This is just from social media and going back and forth with people. Now, as an independent artist, my album is coming out by the end of the year, and I’ll probably have one-hundred-thousand followers. Record companies are shutting down because artist are putting music out themselves—we are promoting ourselves. So, if you don’t have a network or followers, you don’t have any money.
You mentioned when we spoke before that you were almost homeless, elaborate more on that and where you are now in life.
I moved to New York when I was about 21 or 22, and I didn’t have family there. I’m from upstate New York, and I moved to New York city, which was a big move. I didn’t know anyone. A lot of times, I was staying at friends’ houses, and then things would happen where I couldn’t stay, so a lot of nights I slept on the train and a lot of nights I slept in cars—but I was determined to not go home until I made something of myself. I didn’t want to look like a failure.
I heard so many stories of other people, that became homeless and became big stars. I felt that this is what I had to go through. I really wasn’t homeless. I had a family with money that was 2-hours away, and I could have called my mother, and told her I was coming home. But I didn’t do that because I felt it was part of the struggle, to get me where I needed to go… I knew what I was called to do. I know that I’m supposed to be a singer and if this was the struggle I had to go through, then I can do that. I grew up spoiled—I learned how to stay on the streets and survive in New York city.
This is really embarrassing, but I remember one time, I went to a friend’s house and I hadn’t showered in days. I walked into the house and they told me that I couldn’t keep my shoes on—took my shoes off and the odor lit up the whole house. I’m a cleanly person, and my parents are clean… It was EMBARRASSING. I went through a lot of embarrassment, being talked about, just to fulfill my dream.
You have to know without doubts that this is what God has called you to do. I knew for a fact…
Not everyone is going to make it. I don’t like putting it into people’s heads that they should just keep going, because I had a point that if the struggle goes on for another 2 years, and I didn’t see anything, I was going back home. I said, “Lord, if you’re going to make it happen. It needs to happen before I’m 25. Show me something. I should be seeing something and I need to see some type of progress…” If you don’t see any progress at all, maybe you need to think it over.
In my situation, God came and showed me Lyfe Jennings. Lyfe moved me off the streets and gave me a job, and we went from there.
Troy, New York, on June 25
“BET Matters,” July, 2016
Blackstreet and Dave Hollister, TBD
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