Vocalist Michele Thomas is one of those new artists that you anxiously wait to hear more from, after their first CD has been released. 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.
This is one artist that you have no choice but to dig and I mean really sit up and listen. And that goes for even those who may not be hardcore jazz fanatics. Even if traditional jazz isn't your thing, Michele's seven track CD I'll Take Romance would change your mind before you could say the title of her CD.
Michele sounds like an old jazz soul on the jazz standard I'll Take Romance and sings it with a level of familiarity as if it were written for her.
Wayne Shorter's Black Nile never sounded so good and Michele shows off her skills as she adds lyrics to this jazz instrumental standard.
Delve into My One and Only Love and Stevie Wonder's Where Were You When I Needed You and see how mellow and pleasant they are. Truly gems.
Other songs on the CD include Mamaduke, Gentle Rain and a unique version of Duke Ellington's Come Sunday. It is neither straight-ahead jazz nor bordering on pop music. Just a musical oddity on a CD that more favors standard-like theme is all. Luckily for Michele, it turns out just fine.
Asha Brodie, JazzReview.com
(Michele has) a serious vocal gift. Stevie's Where Were You... took on the colors of autumn with (this) graceful unplugged unit. Patient, mature accenting; both the voice and the feeling together.
Jenny K., JuliansFlight.com - Melody for the world
As Kornheiser would say, clahhh-sic.
As debut albums go, this one is especially strong. Michele has wonderful control and excellent use of tone color. The songs are a good mix of vibrant and melancholy; mostly standard straight-ahead fare. (Although the Duke's Come Sunday treatment could be called smooth jazz - but not as a euphemism for elevator music).
After listening to it off and on since its debut, I have to say that my favorite cuts are Marmaduke and Black Nile. Both have a nice delicate energy to them. Michele and her band keep things percolating nicely, while still never going over the top.
I'll Take Romance is definitely something worth listening to on a quiet night at home with that special someone. If only romance were as easy to come by as this CD.
Jelani Greenidge, Amazon.com Review
(She) has her own vocal sound, which is beautiful by the Grace of God.
Yusef Lateef, legendary jazz artist, Grammy award winner
Best singer by far! Great feeling! Great voice! I'm in love!
Kevin Mahogany, Warner Bros. recording artist
What can I say? (She's) a natural! Wonderful delivery, great scat!
Rick Stone, jazz guitarist, educator
(She) has a wonderful sense of what goes where, the amount and color of the voice, the amount and kind of rhythmic articulation and soul...Extraordinary!
Horace Clarence Boyer, gospel music historian, scholar, author
Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Location: Chicago, IL
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Michele Thomas is a professional vocalist concentrating in jazz, pop and gospel genres. With over ten years of classical training she has had extensive performance experience in jazz, gospel, background vocals and musical theater. She has also spent the past thirteen years training and conducting gospel and children’s choirs. Michele has made repeated appearances across the U.S. and Sweden as a guest lecturer/workshop clinician on the subject of gospel music and many performances throughout the U.S. and Sweden. Michele brings to her teaching invaluable experience as a vocal instructor with foundational knowledge in vocal pedagogy.
Michele has been performing jazz in Chicago for over the last decade. In that time she has managed to perform at such legendary venues as Chicago's own Green Mill, and worked with such well-known musicians as bassists Kelly Sill and Michael Arnopol, and pianist Ryan Cohen. Recognized for her "Ella-esque" tone and the musical coloring of "Sarah", Michele Thomas brings a vibrant spirit to the voice of jazz. With her warm, heartfelt delivery and mean scat solos, she has won over the hearts of her fans and the jazz community! Her debut CD, “I’ll Take Romance” has received warm reviews and she is currently working on the release of her second album, “Messenger”, due out in the fall of 2008.
The daughter of a minister and the progeny of Chicago's gospel saturated Church of God In Christ (C.O.G.I.C.) denomination; Michele's musicality was nurtured and developed in significant ways. From the time she was a small child she sang in her school choir, nurturing her passion for harmonies and improvisation. When Michele went to college she continued her music studies, fervently striving to bring all the types of music she loved into her learning experience.
Throughout this time, Michele kept strong ties to her gospel heritage, and as a college freshman, Michele founded and conducted North Park University's very first gospel choir. Her tremendous success with this group was evident in the rapid growth of the choir that sprouted from a small ensemble of 12 to a massive assembly of over 100 members in just the four years that Michele was a student. Her charisma in gospel singing as well as conducting not only won the praise of her immediate campus community, but also caught the interest of international gospel musicians. So in both 1996 and 1998, Michele was invited to tour in Sweden performing and teaching gospel music to Scandinavian audiences.
Since then Michele has flourished as a freelance musician and instructor, balancing her time between studio recordings, performances and private instruction. She has taught for various Chicago organizations such as The Merit School Of Music, The Chicago Park District and The Maywood Fine Arts Association. Yet in 2006, Michele ventured out to start her own private studio—Soulstream Music Studio of which she is the sole proprietor. She currently holds a roster of 27 students and has organized many recitals for them over the past year.
Michele’s personal mission is to meet each student where he or she is in terms of his or her artistic development. She provides a challenging but safe atmosphere for the discovery of the voice, while guiding the student with technical and artistic advice to develop his or her own voice and style. She gets down to basics and cleans up student’s technical problems--starting her students on breathing exercises and then moving on to focus, support, relaxing tensions, then applying these techniques to song interpretation.
Over the years Michele has honed her vocal and teaching skills in order to bridge the gap between traditional classical voice and non-classical styles. She has dedicated herself to providing her students with the healthiest and most practical of singing methods—while all along providing balance between the nurturing of each student’s personal aesthetic and giving them motivation for success.