Vixen Chat: Chanelle Hayes of Trin-I-Tee 5:7
The group has been together for so long. Why go solo now?
It’s all timing. It’s not new in terms of the idea just coming to me. I just knew that the market needed what Trin-I-Tee 5:7 had to offer. We came out in 1998 and there was no funky young gospel girl group. It just wasn’t there and it was something that we really embraced and just now am I finally really ready to express myself creatively as an individual as a woman. I started as a teenager, so it’s a great time.
You mentioned using your own creativity. How will your album be different from a Trin-I-Tee 5:7 album?
I’m finally 100 percent in control from the photoshoot to the album cover to sitting here with you deciding where I want to interview and talk about my career and express myself. Booking agents, management, I hand picked everything, so that it is a true extension reflection of Chanelle. I’m building my brand from the bottom up—well not from the bottom up because I still have Trin-I-Tee 5:7 as apart of my DNA—but you’re just getting a more concentrated Chanelle.
What will your sound be like on your album?
On this record, I wanted to have all these voices that I’ve always wanted to share, but I was always nervous to do it because I know there is a certain sound people like. So you gotta give people what they want. At the same time, I have to have fun because I love textures. No one could sound like Billie Holiday. No one can sound like Tina Turner, you know what I mean? No one can sound like Sarah Vaughn. They have very unique textures and talents and I’m all about that. I do it in the shower all the time but the when I get to studio I have to give them the voice that they’re used to so with this one but this record I get to have fun and do all of it.
Are there any collaborations on the album?
I have one, because again I wanted the record to be cohesive. I’ve done a bunch of records where it has 10 to 15 producers but this time I needed it to have a theme, you know? The records like Miseducation of Lauryn Hill where it’s a theme from the beginning to the end. So the collaboration for me is PJ Morton of Maroon 5, and he’s my childhood friend. Since kids, we’ve been creating music in our dads’ churches. We’re both pastor’s children. So just throughout the years we’ve both been achieving different things in our careers but when I called him I was like, “Hey I need you,” and he was like, “Hey, what do you need?” It was so magical being in the studio with your friend from childhood creating something that the world will hear.
It doesn’t sound like your album will have the traditional gospel sound.
Not at all. I mean in some ways I’m traditonal but then it comes to my lifestyle and my approach to life in general. It’s very unorthodox. I think a lot of people may not even think I’m a Christian.
Just because I don’t live my life with the purpose of making people accept me. I make mistakes and I make bad choices, which are two different things. Sometimes you just do stuff on my purpose like, “You know what? This is what I wanna do.” I own it, though. You learn from your own choices and Christians generally don’t really give you that legroom. In a lot of ways it’s unrealistic and unattainable the way they project Christianity, especially with people in my generation and younger. So I’m just like you know what I’m in love with my life. I love God. I have a very healthy relationship with him and it’s in the process. If you don’t like my music or you don’t like the way I dress or you don’t like where I hang out that’s okay because I don’t like that choir robe you have on either. But I mean I accept it but that’s not what I wear, you know what I mean? So it’s about learning to love and accept each other for who you are. I’m all about that, especially on my record.
I saw that you recently got some backlash over your new hairstyle. People were saying you were going to hell. What happened with that?
It’s the craziest thing. When your life is public you just gotta be ready for whatever because you really don’t know. If you just do a regular post it could turn into sheer madness and all I did is what you see right now. I cut the sides but I had it kind of spiked in the front you know? I was feeling great and feeling the vibe of Grace Jones. I posted the picture and all I was doing was eating at my favorite sushi bar and was having sushi and what do I get? All kinds of stuff like, “Good Christian girls don’t really go out and look like this. You look like the world. You look like you’re trying to draw attention to yourself and not to the message of Christ,” and they flat out said I was going to hell (laughs). I’m just like, what planet are you on? You can’t be on earth right now because if you believe in the God of the universe do you actually think my demise will be to burn in hell because of hair color and a hair cut? And that’s what freaked me out because these people in these times will lead other young people or people in their churches or wherever in your mosque or temple, you can’t lead people with such limited ideas of who God is. I’m such a rebel against all that. It shocked me but it doesn’t change me. I’m not gonna stop being Chanelle. Some people can’t even grow hair. Are they going to hell to because their hair isn’t growing? Like c’mon. It’s so crazy.