Diamond Editorial

Dry bones ain't got a chance

What do you do when faced with dead or dying situations in your life? Ezekiel has some answers. Upstream's editor Natasha Coker-Jones says she knows a thing or two about dry places.

Read More
Diamond Features

'An Insatiable Desire to Live'

UWI graduate Kwesi Aguillera is a fighter. His rare condition baffled doctors for years. Successfully diagnosed, he can finally seek out the life-saving surgery he needs. See how ordinary people are pitching in and what you can do to make it happen.

Read More
Diamond Features

I've Got a Future

He's young and single with a promising Gospel music career that was about to take off. Then the secret broke. He had been leading a double life. Worship leader Keron Ramsey had fallen--big time. And that's where the story might have ended. But God...

Read More
Diamond Features

Jason Bishop - Transformed by Truth

It wasn't an accident, sickness or any kind of 'near death' experience that caused Jason Bishop to give up the perks of being a guitarist in one of T&T's top soca bands. But his story is no less intriguing.

Read More
Diamond Features

Watch What You Watch!

Once upon a time it was said that 'real' Christians don't go to the cinema. That was light years ago. Today, movies are 'in' and many believers have no qualms about watching their favourite flick, be it the R-rated 'Sex in the City' or the horror 'Drag Me To Hell.' The big question is: Have we gone too far?

Read More

The Leonce allure

Post to MySpace! Share on MySpace! Share on Facebook  

by Desiree McEachrane

russell profile
Russell Leonce

At 30, Russell Leonce has achieved a measure of success that some people never do.

His debut album, Culture of Love was released on March 14 to wide acclaim. His performance of Troubles Won’t Last at the 2008 Copyright Music Organisation of T&T (COTT) Awards was hailed by many as the best act of the night. His self-written lyrics are worshipful. His preppie dress style is distinctive (gotta love the Ivy cap). And his velvet voice, shades of John Legend overlaid with his own special Russell raspiness, is powerful. He smiles easily and when he does, you understand the Leonce allure.

“I am eclectically easy-going,” he said with a chuckle when I ask him to describe himself. But there is one more thing that distinguishes Leonce from the pack.

“At this point in time I’m a single man and I’m comfortable in my singleness,” he said in a telephone interview. “And I’m focused on doing ministry in my singleness.”

I want to be single

Strong words, but Leonce stands behind them. His last romantic relationship ended in 2006, and since then he’s taken the time, “to work on myself as a single person.

“It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. I found myself having to take some drastic measures in terms of keeping certain persons at a distance.” His safeguards include limiting conversations with the opposite sex to ensure that no one gets the wrong idea.

“We can’t have certain conversations, we can’t talk for over a certain length of time, we can’t talk on the phone after a certain time,” he explained. “It may not be diplomatic, but it’s necessary. It’s very difficult to be single and have people understand that you want to be single.”

Very difficult, once you’re Russell Leonce. At recent concert R3, where he performed onstage alongside Christian artistes Rizon and Ruth Osman-Rose, “Yes, Russell!” was shouted more than once by female audience members during Leonce’s sets. He admitted that the number of women that show romantic interest in him has increased along with his visibility. But that hasn’t fazed his focus.

“I don’t know if people get caught up in the idea of love. But I take relationships on any level very seriously. Right now I believe that I’m where He wants me to walk; because I could easily jump into something. I find it to my advantage to be single and in ministry.”

Maybe he understands ministry so well because it’s part of his birthright. Born in St. Lucia and raised in Trinidad, Leonce is the son of Nazarene District Superintendent of the Windward Islands Pastor George Leonce. Predictably, he grew up singing in the church’s children’s choir, the youth choir and the adult choir. He and his sister Lisa have sung many a duet and both went on to sing back-up for many of T&T's most popular gospel ministers, including Sherwin Gardner and Nicole Balloosingh-Holder. But singing was once on the sidelines where his career was concerned. He earned his BA in Theology from the Caribbean Nazarene College (CNC) as a stepping stone to becoming a Christian counsellor. But God had other plans.

“While I was in school, they would always plunge me into worship because I could sing. And I always rebelled against it because I felt it wasn’t me,” Leonce explained. “But I soon realised that that was what God was calling me to do. He just opened up the doors for it to expand.” Called to worship? Yeah.

The journey Leonce has taken seems random at points. From being asked by a record label to write a song with Lisa and failing: “We couldn’t write for anything,” to suddenly ‘getting’ a song in his spirit while sitting in the chapel of CNC: “A full song, with a bridge,” to releasing a Culture of Love, he acknowledges that he hasn’t planned his own steps.

“I had all my plans to do counselling. I sit here now and see that God had a plan that was so much better,” Leonce explained seriously. “Someone mentioned to me that I counsel through my music, and that I can reach many more people this way than if I were practicing.” The method is different, but clearly Leonce’s gift of healing ministry remains clear.

“There is something I keep hearing over and over in my spirit since we released the album: ‘healing music.’ That’s what I want to produce.” (continued on next page)



1 2



Mr. Leonce, I'm a big fan of your music, I actually have this CD and I listen to it quiet often I must admit. I was emailed this link, in an attempt to understand your conviction I read the article; I agree with Mr. Bokin's stance, it was truly inspiring and as a youth myself more so. Blessings!
christopher joseph

Aye Russell keep doing what ur doing the way ur doing it. Continue touching lives with the good news of Christ through ur music...stay strong bro and may success, Godly success chase after
Darryl Bodkin

this was an encouraging article.

Post Commment

Life In The Windies

Take a peek at Upstream's photo gallery. See if your photo made our selection for this month

Copyright © 2009 Upstream Publications Limited ® All Rights Reserved

made visual by sightFACTORY