Michael J Thomas
Composer; Instrumentalist; Performer; Vocalist
Contemporary Instrumental; Jazz; Pop; R&B
While growing up in the small town of Cecilia, Kentucky, Michael J. Thomas’ parents thankfully filled his childhood with a steady stream of legendary R&B/pop artists who would later become muses – Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, and Prince. Thomas studied piano at the age of seven and switched to saxophone in seventh grade, shortly after discovering contemporary jazz artists like Yellowjackets and Dave Grusin on a Technics demo disc that came with a stereo his dad purchased. It was in his high school jazz band rehearsal one late evening when all of his ear training and emulation of other saxophonists finally came together. The band was performing a run-through of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” that had a transcribed alto sax solo that Thomas deviated from. He says, “For some reason it all came together in an instant while taking the solo lead. It finally clicked and I could improvise. The band and the Director were so impressed that they stopped playing the song and clapped for me. It was really at that moment, that my musical journey began.”
In a year as crazy and uncertain as 2020, it may not always be easy to accentuate the positive, but #1 Billboard recording artist Michael J Thomas has made it a bit easier, encouraging us to groove gently along to his latest smash single, the infectious and soulful “Sippin’ the Yak.” The follow-up single to the multi-talented saxophonist’s second #1 hit, an explosive re-imagining of Lady Gaga’s “I’ll Never Love Again,” the track reached #2 on three major charts - - the Billboard Smooth Jazz Airplay/Smooth Jazz Songs chart (where it stayed in the Top 5 for nine weeks), the Smooth Jazz Network Top 20 and the Mediabase Smooth Jazz chart and rounded out 2020 on Billboard's Year-End Smooth Jazz Songs chart at #5.
The second lead single from Thomas’ recently released EP STREAM’N LOVE, the soprano-driven Sippin’ the Yak was written by Thomas and keyboardist Trammell Starks, a multi-hyphenate (composer, producer, arranger, engineer) who has worked with everyone from Peabo Bryson and Jennifer Holliday to Patti Labelle and the London Symphony Orchestra (at Abbey Road Studios). It was produced by Thomas, Starks, and Carl Griffin, a three-time Grammy® winning producer and former Motown executive who was Senior VP of A&R for legendary jazz label GRP Records for 15 years, N-coded Music, and N2K.
Two years before dominating the airwaves 2019 with “I’ll Never Love Again,” Thomas paved the way for his current success with his first #1 single “Baby Coffee,” from his Sony Music distributed album DRIVEN. The track reached the pole position on three national radio charts, including Billboard (where it stayed at the top for 4 consecutive weeks), USA Today, and Smooth Jazz Top 20 with Allen Kepler.
While receiving terrestrial radio airplay across the globe, Thomas’ music has been featured on Sirius XM’s Watercolors, The Weather Channel, and in the Warner Bros. film CONTAGION starring Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburne.