By Charles Hallman
After over a decade as top gospel performers, Angel Taylor and Chanelle Haynes both admit that it is still exciting whenever they hear their music played.
“The excitement never goes away,” says Chanelle, who along with Angel are the original members of Trin-i-tee 5:7.
The two New Orleans natives have known each other since elementary school, and each young woman began singing at their respective churches at a young age.
Chanelle, a daughter of a Pentecostal minister, first sang in the choir at age six, then later became choir director. At age 12, she tried out for an unused television pilot produced by Quincy Jones, who later recommended her for Star Search when she was 15 years old.
Angel as a child sang at various events as well as her family’s Baptist church, and as a teenager performed at a local radio station’s talent show.
They helped form a gospel trio in 1998 and released a self-titled album, Trin-i-tee 5:7, named for the verse 1 John 5:7 in the Bible that refers to the Trinity. Their music is typically gospel with an R&B flavor, and Trin-i-tee 5:7 has been recognized by both genres. For example, the first album reached number one on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart, and it spent over 50 weeks on the Top Hip Hop/R&B Albums list. That album also went gold as well.
A recipient of the Gospel Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, Trin-i-tee 5:7 is now a duo, and earlier this year released its seventh album — its first on their current Music World Gospel label, Angel & Chanelle (available in standard and “Deluxe Edition” versions). It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album in November, as well as two Stellar Awards for Group/Duo of the Year and Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year.
Angel and Chanelle recently talked about their current CD and their fourth Grammy nomination with the MSR in a phone interview.
“Every time we get that call, it is a lot of excitement,” admits Chanelle. “We are like little kids. We are so excited to be recognized by the Grammys.”
It is “the highest honor that any artist can get,” adds Angel. “It’s awesome to be acknowledged by the Grammy association. It is something that you don’t take for granted or take lightly.”
This is the second time Trin-i-tee 5:7 produced two versions of the same CD (the first was T57 in 2008) but the first as a duo. “We have our usual gospel R&B sound, but we wanted to stretch ourselves,” notes Chanelle on the 12-song standard version and the Grammy nominated 17-song “Deluxe Edition.”
The two women definitely stretched themselves as it goes in various directions:
Fellow New Orleans resident and award-winning producer P.J. Morton produced “Over and Over,” whose repetitious title is constantly heard as the song starts slow then builds up into a simple religious message. “Heaven Hear My Heart” has reached the top of the Urban Adult Contemporary charts. “Bring Your Praise” has a Deitrick Haddon hip-hop feel to it.
“The Cross” has a Tina Turner-like feel and easily can be a rock anthem.
“I Worship Your Name” is a perfect praise-and-worship song, and the more traditional “I’m Still Holdin’ On” is a soul-stirrer number that church choirs easily would love to try themselves.
However, the final two songs clearly demonstrate the two women’s vocal chops at their best: Backed by a string arrangement, “Psalm 139” beautifully displays Angel and Chanelle’s harmonious styling without being preachy, and “Drops of Rain” is hauntingly soothing.
“We made that deluxe version [with] a bit more universal appeal,” surmises Chanelle.
Whether standard or deluxe — a group, duo or individually — Angel and Chanelle’s purpose remains the same. “God gave us the gifts that we have and the purpose and reason,” explains Chanelle. We create music from our hearts.”
“It is not only our story, but it’s so many other people’s experience in life,” adds Angel.
Angel admits that she and Chanelle often dislike the business part of the music business: “It gets tedious at times.” Therefore, it helps to have the right people around them.
“As an artist, we really want to be creative, do the music, write the songs and do the shows,” says Angel. “We are thankful that we have an awesome team around us who understands the ins and outs of the industry and how it works.”
Trin-i-tee 5:7 also keep in touch with their fans, using the Internet and social media sites — Angel says that their “Angel and Chanelle Show” can be seen on YouTube for example. “Obviously, you have to evolve,” she points out.
“We have the highest standards for ourselves,” says Chanelle. “When you get a group of people with high standards, and have high aspirations and see [our] vision, it is a win-win situation.
“We’re hard workers,” she emphasizes. “…We have been around for 16 years because we are passionate about what we do.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected]