Trey Songz has crafted some of the decade's most acclaimed and compelling R&B music since making his recording debut in 2005. His first two Songbook Entertainment/Atlantic albums - I Gotta Make It (2005) and Trey Day (2007) - spawned three top ten singles: "Last Time," "Girl Tonight," and the Grammy-nominated "Can't Help But Wait." The late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun called Trey one of "the most promising R&B artists we have had since we started the company 60 years ago." And with the 2009 release of his third album Ready, Trey Songz is more than ready to claim his place in the pantheon of R&B greats. "Many people tell me that I don't get my just due," says Trey. "They may know my singles, but between my records I've also released mix tapes like Swagga Like Songz and The Ladies Choice. Now, Ready embodies everything I am as an artist. Everybody can be happy with the album, from the hip hop to the R&B crowd." Trey drew on diverse personal influences to craft an album that will thrill both long-time and first-time fans. And he worked with accomplished producers and songwriters to make it happen, including Stargate, Eric Hudson, Sean Garrett, Bryan-Michael Cox, Soundz, Soul Keys, Jermaine Dupri, and long-time collaborator Troy Taylor. On the album's first official single "I Need A Girl," Stargate (aka Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen) again deliver their signature guitar-led production that worked magic on "Can't Help But Wait." On the soulful track "Black Roses" Trey croons over a distorted guitar and quasi-electronica arrangement. With its blend of hip hop, R&B, and pop, Ready reflects an artist's growth on every front. Trey possesses a new vocal maturity anchored by his ability to twist keys and notes effortlessly, all the while exploring broader subjects. "With every move you make you have something to prove," says Trey. "There's always room for improvement. I'm growing, as a person, as an artist, and as a man. My clothes fit differently, my braids are missing... I'm changing as a person and the music is the better for it." Tremaine "Trey" Aldon Neverson was a military brat, eventually settling with his family in Petersburg, VA. Ironically, as a young teen Trey wasn't really interested in singing. It was the women in his life who helped make Trey the man he is today. With a grandmother who set an example as a devoted church choir member and a mother who never stopped encouraging him, 14-year-old Trey entered a local talent show. He won that contest and many more, collecting 19 trophies in all. Trey was 15 when he met producer Troy Taylor, who has worked with everyone from Boyz II Men to Lionel Richie. Taylor immediately recognized Trey's talent and invited him to move to New Jersey after high school, where Trey developed his vocal, writing, and production skills. Trey soon started commuting across the river to New York City, earning his keep as Taylor's production assistant. He completed a musical "boot camp" as he learned about recording, absorbing music by artists like Prince, Marvin Gaye, and Steely Dan. After signing with Atlantic Records in 2003, Trey transformed this formative experience into his debut album I Gotta Make It. In 2004 Trey began his production company, Songbook, with Taylor. The company houses several producers, but Trey doesn't want to overstep his boundaries or stunt anyone else's creative growth. "We've been honing Songbook," says Trey. "We make sure that we don't keep people from what they have to do. I don't want to get the talent if I don't have a place for it. A lot of people sign artists that they'll never release, just to have them. I'd rather let you find your own way." Adding philanthropist to his resume, in August 2008 Trey and community activist Noonie Ward launched the youth charity organization Songz For Peace in Chicago's crime-ridden Southside. The opening event attracted 500 kids eager to say yes to life's positive opportunities. "The violence within the youth is rising at an alarming rate," says Trey. "I get to speak on that, and children listen to me." Songz For Peace will travel to visit several U.S. cities this year including Atlanta, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. In 2008 Trey also found time to collaborate with fellow Atlantic artist Flo Rida on a street-smart rendition of "Jingle Bells" for clothing giant the Gap. It became a sensation during the holiday season that year. Trey has delivered his best musical work to date with Ready. "I've always been the underdog of my class," says Trey. "But this time nothing can stop me from achieving all that I want."
In-depth Biography Although Trey Songz loved hip-hop while growing up, the only R&B he could get into was R. Kelly. When his friends heard his perfect tenor voice, however, they pushed him to drop rap and start crooning. Trey did just that, and after winning numerous talent shows in his native Petersburg, Virginia, the 15-year-old singer met Troy Taylor, who had worked behind the scenes with such artists as Patti LaBelle, SWV, and B2K. Taylor encouraged Trey to finish high school first, and then they could talk about a possible music career.
Trey received his diploma and immediately moved to New Jersey to work with Taylor. Soon, the singer was appearing on Kevin Lyttle's debut album and Trick Daddy's Thug Matrimony as a sideman, as well as striking out on his own with "About the Game," a solo cut from the Coach Carter soundtrack. As he was working on his debut album -- not to mention several collaborations with Lil' Kim, Trina, and Snoop Dogg -- Trey Songz released some street-level mixtapes under his alias, the Prince of Virginia. His proper debut, I Gotta Make It, was released by Atlantic Records in 2005, and the sophomore effort, Trey Day, charted at number 11 upon its release in 2007.
In 2009 the single "I Need a Girl" helped to make Ready his first album with an RIAA gold certification. In the summer of 2010 his track “Already Taken” landed on the Step Up 3D soundtrack, while his collaborative single with rapper Nicki Minaj, “Bottoms Up,” was released to promote that year's Passion, Pain & Pleasure, issued in September. "Bottoms Up," as well as the album's three following singles, reached the Top Ten of the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The five-track EP Inevitable was released in November 2011 as a stopgap prior the singer's fifth album, Chapter 5. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi