The title of St. Louis singer-actor Tre’von Griffith’s new EP “I’m Back” raises the obvious question: Where have you been?
“For a while, I wasn’t recording music. I wasn’t doing anything pertaining to music. I didn’t take music gigs. I wasn’t trying to put myself out there that way. So I’m back as far as being who I am as an artist,” says Griffith, who records under the name TreG.
Griffith is also back in St. Louis. He earned a master’s degree in 2015 in global entertainment and music business from the Berklee College of Music in Boston (which included a year of study in Valencia, Spain).
He figured he needed to focus on the business aspect of music over recording.
“I thought, I didn’t want to be a performer. The way artists are viewed, they’re so important but they’re not that important. I wanted to balance all the gifts I have and make it work for me. If you think of Jay-Z, you think mogul, though he’s a rapper. But he’s more than a rapper.”
“I’m Back” is Griffith’s follow-up to “Phases of Love” (2011), a compilation of songs he wrote in middle school.
“As a complete body of work, I try not to listen to it anymore,” he admits. “It was time for something new — time for me to put a new stamp on people’s ears and people’s brains.”
“I like to tell stories,” he says first and foremost of “I’m Back,” which holds its own with today’s R&B projects. “And I definitely wanted it to be current, real R&B, 2016 sounds. I wanted to show fans it’s different from what I’ve done in the past. As you grow older, you grow in the way you create.”
“Porch Song,” from “I’m Back,” is another visit to his childhood. It’s an homage to where he grew up. “I grew up on the west side in my great-grandmother’s house, which is still in the family. The song reminds me of sitting on the porch and being a kid, about having a good time.”
“Real One” is a song from the new EP inspired by his personal life. “I guess I’m perceived as a player. So I wanted to talk about how it would feel to have something real, to put down that player’s card and be serious about something that I love.”
Of “Throwin Shade,” which comes with its own interlude, he says, “I think I’m one of the only male artists that can talk about throwing shade and get away from it. In the interlude I wanted to give the background of what throwing shade actually means (urban slang for trash talking), give it a little background and make it humorous.”
While pushing his work as a singer, Griffith is staying true to his longtime passion of acting. As a child, he was in the Black Rep’s summer program, which he joined at 8. Over the years, he performed in “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” his debut with the company, along with “Raisin in the Sun,” “Macbeth,” “The Me Nobody Knows” and “Sarafina.”
Griffith, currently the box office and special events manager at the Black Rep, also worked with Stages St. Louis, appearing in its Theater for Young Audiences production of “101 Dalmatians,” and he has toured with the group Team Stages.
“I prefer music, but I’ve done more theater,” he says.
Griffith founded the G Arts Foundation in 2014, which develops the next generation of artists.