Trilogy is a triple threat in a few senses of the phrase. They are a singing trio, of course, but between the three of them, they also arrange, write and produce music. When talking to them, a playful and dedicated approach to music is discerned, matched with the discipline required to master their craft. The group members are serious about their academics, with two degrees earned between them, and one in the making. At ages 23, 22 and 20, the siblings of Trilogy are entering the very prime of their life, and they are not playing any games. It takes a healthy dose of talent, focus and commitment to balance a music career and education, and Trilogy has all three in abundance. That is why they are, hands down, the Gospel music group to watch.
Stephen, Jr., Sierra and Shanté Leslie are Trilogy. The siblings grew up in a Washington, D.C. household where appreciation for music was inherent: their dad was a musician and their mom a singer. In regular rotation at home were the praise and worship sounds of Richard Smallwood and Vision, Hezekiah Walker and LFC, The Hawkins Family and more. Stephen, Jr. and Sierra showed an early interest and talent for singing. When she was only 3 years old, it was discovered that the youngest child also had a singing gift. Then, the de facto group was created.
According to Sierra, the siblings always found ways to entertain themselves, mostly singing theme songs from different tv shows that they watched. There were moments where they would flirt with harmonies a little bit, but it wasn’t until they were deliberately harmonizing while singing a Fred Hammond song that their parents took notice and began working with them to cultivate their gift.
“The Leslie Kids,” as they were affectionately known, began singing around the DMV area and at their family church – The Church of Jesus Christ in Southeast D.C. pastored by their grandfather, Bishop John T. Leslie, Jr. Their mother was on the praise and worship team and their uncle, Professor Wilbur Belton, Jr., was minister of music. Additionally, their dad is an accomplished musician who was a mainstay in the jam sessions of good friend and Trilogy producer Dana Sorey, Tye Tribbett and members of one of the baddest bands in Gospel music: SoundCheck.
Their family provided Trilogy’s initial MasterClass in music ministry.
As word traveled about the phenomenal Leslie Kids, they were invited to sing the National Anthem at major events, and for major Gospel music influencers including Dr. Bobby Jones, Pastor Jason Nelson, Vashawn Mitchell, Minister Jonathan Nelson, and more. One memorable performance was at an open mic hosted by Tye Tribbett where the group wowed the audience with their rendition of “Blessed and Highly Favored” by The Clark Sisters.
Before long, the frequent conversation in the Leslie household was about recording a project. In 2014, that project came to fruition with the EP All Things New released on their own record label, PGK Music Entertainment, and new group name - STL3. The project made the trio honor students of the music business, while they were still students in high school. According to Stephen, their parents spearheaded this project, especially on the business side of things, but the kids were hands on creatively. “We were encouraged to write and we not only wrote lyrics, but melodies and harmonies,” said Stephen. “Our producer, Dana Sorey, was very instrumental in helping develop our writing skills. He nurtured our songs, even if they weren’t the best ideas. He showed us how to structure hooks and verses, etc.”
All Things New garnered a Stellar Award Nomination for STL3, and continued to build an exciting buzz and strong foundation for the young group.
Creative transition was on the horizon as the group’s name was changed to Trilogy. This name is inspired by the idea of three individual stories (Sierra, Shanté, and Stephen) coming together to form one complete sound, in order to bring faith-centered, uplifting music to the masses.
Because self-discipline is a part of Trilogy’s arsenal, their pursuit of higher education did not mean their music career would have to be put on hold. In 2017, the group began recording their second project Blank Script, which is set for release in 2020 through PGK Music in partnership with United Alliance Music Group. On this album, the group was more involved on the business side which allowed them to learn even more about the industry, especially as it pertains to budgets. Creatively, they again wrote a lot on the project and this time also did the majority of the vocal production. “It really showed us how much an artform singing in the studio can be,” said Stephen.
Blank Script is a 9-track EP produced by Dana Sorey that is a glistening musical offering providing sonic excitement with a huge undercurrent of encouragement. “The whole vibe of the project is encouragement, the underlying theme is encouragement,” says Shanté.
Shanté actually wrote the title track when she was going into her Junior year of high school. She says that being the youngest made high school challenging for her. “It was hard having two older siblings who had come before me, and the preconceived images and notions about me that came with that. There was already an expectation of who I was just based on my brother and sister. It was a constant battle to show how I was my own person and not have different things pushed on me. ‘Blank Script’ really expresses that moment in my life.”
Other highlights on the EP include “Keep It Moving” that covers the 70s disco hit “Shake Your Groove Thing”, which the group knew about from watching An Extremely Goofy Movie. Then there is “Having You There,” a new song that features the exquisite vocals of Jor’Dan Armstrong and interpolates some of the Mississippi Mass Choir song by the same name. “Having You There” is a nod to Trilogy’s early exposure to and appreciation for choir music. “Jesus Loves Me” features both of the girls on vocals. “The song is very heartfelt and authentic,” says Stephen. “It is a reflection on imperfection and the idea that you may be imperfect but you don’t have to beat yourself up because you have someone who loves you in spite of yourself. There is a strong sense of peace in the harmonies and instrumentation of the song.”
Heartfelt and authentic could actually describe Blank Script overall. Sierra says: “This album is a very honest one. We are growing into ourselves as individuals and as young adults. The songs demonstrate that. We are paying homage to our roots, and at the same time expressing who we are in the present.”