With a big heart and a big soulful voice to match it, Trey Simon has found his purpose in life by taking the pain from chapters of his early life and weaving them into lyric and song that has led this local musician to open for greats such as Patti LaBelle, Andra Day, and Andy Grammar.
He does not shy away from telling his stories of adversity to his audience, including the breakup of his parents’ marriage and a stint of homelessness. But he said within that vulnerability he enjoys seeing them respond with a “spark” of connection and inspiration.
“Music builds relationships,” explained Simon, 28, of Shelby Township. “It can be between the musician and audience, or among other musicians, or even between the songwriter and the song as it evolves from thoughts on a page to a finished piece of music that takes on a life when played live.”
During the troubled times of his youth, Simon said music was the only thing that gave him a feeling of worth. Simon learned his first chords on the frets and strings of his grandfather’s old Gibson guitar beginning at the age of 12.
Growing up with a white mom and a black dad, Simon felt sandwiched between two cultures reflected in his earliest musical memories of listening to Gospel and contemporary Christian music. In his soulful songs such as the love ballad “The Impossible,” and “Head Over Water,” a tribute to all first responders and those struggling to make ends meet during the COVID pandemic, one can hear hints of Jon Foreman, Bob Dylan, Ray Lamontagne and touches of John Legend and Gregory Porter. Simon describes his Christian faith as the foundation for all he aspires to become in his professional and personal life.
“I find beauty and inspiration in all ranges of musical styles,” Simon said, who was nominated for a 2020 Detroit Music Award. ”I work hard at never limiting myself to a genre or sound, but I don’t mind being labeled as a Christian artist. My relationship with Jesus and the struggles I have faced serve as inspiration for all the songs that I have written thus far. There have been moments where I lost sight of that, but His mercy and grace has always brought me back to my roots.”
When Simon finds himself in Birmingham, his favorite spot is the Commonwealth Café for comfort foods such as grilled cheese and tomato soup.
“My buddy Matt Bolchi is a barista there and I don’t know anyone else that can make a better machiatto. That shop has always been a place for me to get time alone to journal and to think while I sip on a coffee. I have always loved walking around Birmingham’s downtown and through the neighborhoods. I have also spent way too much money shopping at Caruso Caruso.”
Recently, he worked the college and church circuits touring around the country and doing what he loves most – performing live (find his schedule at treysimonmusic.com).These days, he spends time at home channeling his energies into writing for a forthcoming album. He hopes he can fill up 2022 with shows in Rochester and around Oakland County.