Deemed as ‘one of the most important blues figures of this decade’ by the Best of Blues Awards- Singer, Songwriter Earl Thomas lives up to this statement with many accolades to his name. As a tireless “Blues Ambassador” he made his European debut in Switzerland at the renowned Montreux Jazz Festival and has been a regular headliner there since 1992. He’s released fifteen cds to date and is a successful songwriter. Icons Etta James, Solomon Burke, Screamin Jay Hawkins, and Sir Tom Jones are just a few of the artists who have covered an Earl Thomas song.
He signed his first recording contract in the early 90’s with Bizarre Straight Records when he was discovered by legendary Hollywood music impresario Herb Cohen. Thomas began his professional career with the release of Blue, an album praised by Rolling Stones Magazine as “a pivotal blues recording…” He came to be a two time Grammy Award nominee and a four time San Diego Music Award winner. With so much commendation and recognition, Earl Thomas is seen as a genuine blues star with his name squarely in blues history. To hear it from the man himself, “I’m just a 21st century bluesman who knows where he comes from and that I carry the story of the ancestors in my veins…”
Check out our exclusive interview below:
- Tell me about your musical background and ultimately how you began your musical career?
I am from a musical family where everyone either plays an instrument and or sing, in fact, as a singer, I’m not even the best one in my family! My mother was a very talented gospel singer and my father was a blues man who played guitar, harmonica, and sang very well also. Music in my family was just something we did. Some families played board games, my family made music. A music career was never something anyone took very seriously. We never even talked about it. When I left home it was to go to college and get a degree in something “useful” that I could use for legitimate work. My musical career and my getting a degree in Music, began quite by accident. Prior to 1983, I never thought about being a professional musician but I was definitely drawn to music in a very powerful way. I was always listening to music on the radio or my own LPs. I had a friend who had a big record collection and I used to sit for hours at his house listening to everything from Joni Mitchell to Son House.
- What were you doing before music?
Before music I was attending college at San Diego State University working toward going into Dentistry. I also worked as a Dental Assistant. Sometimes, while on the job, I would be absent absentmindedly singing along with a song on the radio and a patient in the dental chair would comment that I had a really nice voice. I (as I said) was very drawn to music but had not considered being a performer.
- Most memorable show to date? Why?
The most memorable show to date was not really a show. It was at my friend Scott Corey’s house in Santa Fe New Mexico. We had gone to a concert in town and on the way back had met some girlfriends of his who were going to come by his place for a night cap. There were five or six of us all sitting in his kitchen talking and having our drinks. My friend breaks out his acoustic guitar and just starts playing a song and I start singing along. We started at about 1 a.m. and didn’t stop until about 4 a.m. That was the most connected to the music and the vibe I have ever been. Even to this day I have yet to recreate that feeling of just me and my friend playing for three girls in his kitchen. No contract, no money, no managers, no agents but just making music.
- Who do you look up to for musical inspiration?
Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Shirley Bassey, all the rock guys, all the soul, blues, rhythm & blues guys (and girls).