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The Leonce allure

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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)

 

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Comments

2010-03-08
Crystel

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!
2009-11-18
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
2009-08-17
Darryl Bodkin

this was an encouraging article.

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