The memorial service for Michael Jackson on Tuesday brought out a galaxy of stars who paid tribute to the King of Pop at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, from Usher and Jennifer Hudson to Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder. But some may have wondered, “Who was that singing ’I’ll Be There’ with Mariah Carey?”
His name is Trey Lorenz and he’s a 40-year-old singer from Florence, South Carolina, who is a longtime friend and collaborator of Carey’s. He duetted with her on the 1992 cover of the song, which debuted on “MTV Unplugged” and became a #1 hit single for the diva.
Lorenz met Carey while in his junior year at Farleigh Dickinson University in 1990 when he was singing with a short-lived R&B group called Squeak & the Deep. A friend of a friend brought him to a studio where Carey was recording her first album and they clicked, with Carey inviting him out on the road as a backup singer for a 1990 promotional tour in support of her self-titled debut. He parlayed that into singing background vocals on her sophomore album, Emotions.
After the success of the “Unplugged” Jackson cover, which spotlighted his clear, crisp falsetto, Lorenz scored a record deal with Carey’s soon-to-be-husband (and now ex-husband), Sony boss Tommy Mottola, and released a self-titled 1993 album that featured the top 20 hit “Someone to Hold,” co-produced, co-written and featuring backing vocals from Carey.
When the album failed to catch fire, Lorenz was dropped from Epic Records and settled into a solid career singing background vocals for TLC, Usher, the late Latina star Selena, Whodini, Da Brat, Will Smith and Vanessa Williams. Over the years, he was signed to Carey’s label MonarC and to Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Records label, but did not release any albums under either contract. He continued his close friendship and recording career with Carey, joining her on tours in 1998, 1999 and 2003 and co-writing “Make You Happy” with her for the “Men in Black” soundtrack and “Still Not Over You” for the “Money Train” soundtrack.
After more than a decade out of the spotlight, Lorenz returned in 2006 with his second album, Mr. Mista on X-Ray Records, which didn’t make much noise on the charts even though he was prominently featured on her 2006 Adventures of Mimi Tour, singing background vocals as well as three spotlight songs (including a cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”) every night. Lorenz was also featured as a background vocalist on Carey’s smash comeback The Emancipation of Mimi album.
After his turn with Carey at the Jackson memorial, Trey Lorenz may find himself with another solo deal in the offing.
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”
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