Michele Thomas is an American jazz musician, vocalist and songwriter from Chicago, IL. From growing up singing in church, to co-founding North Park University’s gospel choir, to performing and teaching in Scandinavia, and then carrying that skill back to her hometown, Michele Thomas and her talents have carried her through a fantastic array of experiences within the massive world that is, music. By combining her gospel background with her deep love of jazz and appreciation for contemporary soul and R&B, Michele has crafted a sound that doesn’t conform to one genre, but instead evokes the elements that make these genres so dynamic.
Michele’s life and career began and grew in Chicago, Illinois. Born the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher in the Church of God In Christ, Michele grew up on a steady diet of gospel music. The impact it had on her, even at a young age was profound. These feelings, along with her innate talents, led to Michele arranging and conducting her church’s choir while she was still in her preteen years. Michele would eventually attend North Park University, graduating with a B.A. in music, and establishing their gospel choir.
The development of her love and talent for jazz began at a local tavern named Big Joe’s 2 & 6 Pub and would later extend to the Green Mill amongst other choice Chicago venues. These extremely well regarded performances would help her to found her own vocal studio, where Michele has the wonderful opportunity to help mentor and train young voices to reach their individual heights.
Michele’s performances, like her music itself, are deep and emotional. Not only does she blend the genres of jazz and soul together with elements of folk, but she uses her voice and songwriting to stir something deeper within people, causing them to engage the lyric and the beat simultaneously. Michele has been compared to other powerful African-American singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, and Anita Baker, but she also draws inspiration from Kurt Elling, James Taylor, and Sting.
In between all of her teaching, mentoring, and performing, Michele has found time to record two albums with the help of some of Chicago’s finest session musicians. Her first album, I’ll Take Romance, was very well received with Asha Brodie of JazzReview.com stating:
“Indeed, if larks could record CDs, they'd sound like Michele. She has a style that is joyful and soulful, her love for jazz music emanates through her scats and song phrasing.”
Messenger is Michele’s most recent album and serves as a tribute to Stevie Wonder and the power of his music and songwriting. It also continues to display Michele’s talent for outfitting existing jazz instrumentals with original lyrics, paying homage to the composers and musicians she admires, while simultaneously displaying her vocal flare like on her rendition of Hal Galper’s“Triple Play.”
Whether in her studio, on stage in a jazz club, or in the recording booth, Michele Thomas brings an amazing level of energy, passion, and emotion to everything she does. Music is a powerful force whether it draws inspiration from gospel or the shared human experience and Michele Thomas aims to channel that energy into your heart, mind, and soul.