Trey Songz explains how Aretha Franklin ended up on his debut album, ‘I Gotta Make It’

Trey Songz says his latest album, Back Home, is his “best vocal project” yet.

In an interview with Uproxx, the “Circles” singer reflected on his 15 years in the music industry while telling the story of how the late, legendary Aretha Franklin ended up on the intro to his debut album, I Gotta Make It.

Trey recalled going “everywhere” with his Grammy-winning producer Troy Taylor before signing with Atlantic Records in 2005.

“I would go with him, and I would sit in the back, and I would be his vocal production assistant,” he said. “When he got gigs or opportunities, he would tell me that they were coming, and I would write songs.”

Trey recalled writing a song for Patti LaBelle that “didn’t make the album” but was also written for Aretha Franklin, who recorded it with Troy in Detroit just after listening to I Gotta Make It.

“[Aretha] talked on the phone with me, and everything she said on the intro, she said that and more,” Trey continued. “She was impressed because although my album came out when I was 20, the majority of those songs I wrote and sang [were] from when I was 17 and 18 [years old].”

When he’s having a bad day, Trey said he listens to “A Message from Aretha Franklin,” in which she tells him, “Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. Don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do.”

“That’s the most special thing ever,” added Trey. “Shout out to Aretha for what she means to music and what she means to me. Her telling me I can do this was very much a battery in my back, you better believe.”

By Rachel George
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