Lashundra "Trenyce" Cobbins went from North Memphis to Hollywood when she made the final cut on American Idol in 2003. Now Cobbins is in London, where she's been cast as the female lead in a tribute to pop icon Michael Jackson.
More than 10,000 miles away from home, she's performing in Thriller Live at the Lyric Theater in London every Tuesday through Sunday.
"It takes you on a musical journey through Michael Jackson's entire life," Cobbins said. "From the time he was in the Jackson 5 all the way up to his last records. It's a celebration of his music and his time as an artist and icon.
"People are on their feet and yelling and screaming. [Some are] dressed as Michael Jackson, [wearing his] gloves, hats, and all to celebrate his legacy. There's just nothing like singing such timeless music," Cobbins said.
Cobbins is one of four singers — the other three are males — who perform highlights of Jackson's extensive catalog. Each performer portrays a different period of Jackson's career.
One performer covers songs from the Jackson 5, such as "ABC" and "I'll Be There." Another performer revisits his rock-n-roll stage with songs such as "Dirty Diana." The third artist performs material that Jackson recorded during the disco era with songs like "Get on the Floor."
Cobbins said her portion of the performance is a combination of all the phases of Jackson's career. She said being the only female portraying a male icon in front of a thousand people six days of the week is somewhat challenging.
"It's more difficult to convince the audience," Cobbins said. "You have to work a little bit harder as the girl not to only show your sexy side but also show your tough side, because [Jackson] was fearless as a performer. If I came out singing all soft and sweet, it wouldn't work.
"I throw myself into every single song. I do his nuances, his little hiccups, and his dance moves. I've had lots of fans come up after and say that they were 'not expecting that from a girl' or 'MJ would be proud.' And that makes me feel good. We actually got the approval of the Jackson estate as well as his brothers, who have come to see the show and loved it," Cobbins said.
Cobbins got her big break after finishing in fifth place on American Idol's second season. Then she starred in the 30th anniversary national tour of the musical Ain't Misbehavin' alongside fellow American Idol contestant Frenchie Davis and winner Ruben Studdard. In 2010, the trio was nominated for a Grammy for an album they created featuring songs performed on the tour.
Cobbins doesn't appear to be stopping for a breather anytime soon. She will star in Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to the 2010 superhero action comedy alongside Jim Carrey and others. It's scheduled to preview this summer.
"I play a cheerleading coach to the young girl [Hit-Girl] who kicks a lot of butt in the film," she said.
Cobbins is also in the process of recording her debut album. She's currently prepping the release of the album's first single.