Robert “Trey” Merritt III, 29, is taking the Tri-city music scene by storm.
“Trey comes from three, so it’s my nickname,” Merritt said when describing why he does not use his full name.
Born in Dothan and now living in Phenix City, Merritt discovered his love for music at an early age.
“I grew up in my church. My mother, Mavis Merritt, is a singer. My dad, Robert Merritt II, is a bass player,” Merritt said. “I come from a musical background. They have a gospel group and they introduced me to music by buying me a drum set.”
As a teenager, he was an athlete and played basketball, baseball, and football. But at 19, he realized music was his passion.
Besides drums, Merritt also plays guitar, bass, piano, and organ. He describes his work as “feel good music.”
“I try to make music to move the soul,” he said. “I want you to be able to connect with it and feel the emotion within it.”
When asked about his biggest inspiration in music, with no hesitation, he said Prince.
Merritt recently released a new album titled, Trey Merritt the Live Experience Plus. He recalled the challenges he had while making the album.
“Only six of the songs are live. The last three cuts are studio records,” Merritt said. “So, on the last three songs, I had to play most of the instrumentations and sing all the vocals. But on the six live songs, I had a full band. So it was just finding time to write and finish the rest of the record.”
He chose live performances for his album because of the instrumentation that comes with it.
“I’ve always been one that loves live performances,” he said. “I prefer live performances over listening to the radio any day.”
As a guitarist, he has a strong resume. He has played the guitar on Netflix’s Luke Cage with Raphael Saadiq, played with Deitrick Haddon, and played at the Essence Festival.
It took some time to become the full fledged vocalist that he is now.
“As far as a singer, I’ve always been able to sing. My mom taught me at a young age,” Merritt said. “But I’ve always been shy. So it was getting over the shyness of getting out front and singing.”
He talked about the importance of investing in yourself and your dream.
“All the finances came out of my pocket,” he said. “I paid for all the distributing and all the copyrights. When you believe in yourself, you invest in yourself.”
On Mar. 13., Merritt will be performing in Nashville in the Soulful Sounds festival at the Loudhouse venue. He’s also planning to go on a mini-tour sometime this year.
When not performing, Merritt is the bassist at Macedonia Christian Ministries in Columbus, where he has worked for the past three years.
“Church is my foundation for learning. If it wasn’t for church, I probably wouldn’t be playing music,” he said.
When asked about the best advice he has gotten, he recalls advice given to him by his parents.
“Remain humble and remain driven,” he said. “Never become content just because you make it to a level where you believe you have arrived. You haven’t. You can always go higher.”
Merritt wanted to take time to thank his fans. “People don’t have to support you. I’m a brand new artist so all the support I’ve received is overwhelming,” Merritt said. “People knew me as a guitarist, but they didn’t know me as a singer, songwriter, and performer. And they have bought the record all over the country and I am just thankful.”