Michele Thomas
Gig Seeker Pro

Michele Thomas

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1999 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1999
Solo Jazz Soul




"Michele Thomas, Messenger"

"Overall, this (Messenger) is a fun collection of reinterpretations. When someone can take such liberties with the original material, and never spoil the memories of Wonder’s version, shows just how strong Stevie’s compositions are. They’re so great melodically other artists can play with them and come up with new and beautiful covers. You may not even reach back for the old Wonder records quite so quickly after listening to this one." Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5) ~ - by Dan Macintosh

"Yusef Lateef"

"(She) has her own vocal sound, which is beautiful by the Grace of God."
- Legendary jazz artist, Grammy award winner

"Kevin Mahogany"

"Best singer by far! Great feeling! Great voice! I'm in love!"
- Warner Bros. recording artist

"Rick Stone"

"What can I say? (She's) a natural! Wonderful delivery, great scat!"
- Jazz guitarist, educator

"Horace Clarence Boyer"

"(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!

- Gospel music historian, scholar, author

"Amazon.com Review"

As Kornheiser would say, "clahhh-sic", January 16, 2004

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

""Holmgren, Thomas Honored During Homecoming""

CHICAGO, IL (September 25, 2006) - Michele Thomas was just a freshman when she organized and directed the Gospel Choir at North Park University in the 1990s. The choir, which began with 12 members, has gone on to be one of the most popular organizations on campus and has attracted hundreds of students to its ranks over the years.

Thomas, meanwhile, is in the middle of recording her second album and making a name for herself in jazz circles.

“This is the icing on the cake for me in terms of what I’ve gained from being part of such a wonderful organization like the Gospel Choir here,” Thomas said. “It was a family and an outlet for me to express my love for God and my culture.”

Read more at: http://www.covchurch.org/cov/news/item5159
- The Evangelical Covenant Church Magazine

"Jenny K."

"(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.
"Melody for the world"
- JuliansFlight.com

"Featured Artist: Michele Thomas"

CD Title: I'll Take Romance

Year: Reissued in 2006 - Originally Released in 1999

Record Label: Indepedent

Style: Jazz Vocals

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.

Artist's Website: http://www.michelethomas.net

Reviewed by: Asha Brodie
- JazzReview.com

"Heavenly Vocals are delivered via Michele Thomas’ “Messenger”"

Michele performed on New Year’s eve with MTQ or the Michele Thomas Jazz Quartet at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana to promote her second, studio-produced album “Messenger,” which comes out as a digitally downloadable CD this spring. “Messenger” offers Michele’s interpretative rendition of some Stevie Wonder favorites that she believes “shed light on (his) introspective mind and spirit.”
Of New Year’s eve, Michele said, “Anytime I get to work with my band, I’m happy wherever we are. And it just so happened that we hadn’t done any New Year’s Eve gigs in the past few years. A working musician in this economy is really fortunate to be able to play any special holiday events.”
She added that “of that quartet (performing New Year’s eve), two of the three musicians were featured on ‘Messenger.’ Bob Lovecchio, my bass player and Darren Scorza, who is my husband, drummer, percussionist, co-arranger, producer, and engineer on the album. The guitarist and main music arranger on the album is my guitarist, Neal Alger, who also works as part of my quartet…but was not actually working with us on NYE.”
When asked about “Messenger” going to CD now, Michele said, “we decided to experiment with “Messenger” and release the music digitally first. This way we could put the music out there for my fans sooner and help raise capital to eventually release the physical CD, due out later this winter.” She added that the digital download of “Messenger” is available exclusively on her website and that after the physical CD release, individual tracks will be available on iTunes and other major online retailers.
Michele has said that she sees Stevie Wonder as “a messenger of social and political change in our world,” thus the title of the album. When asked about the predominant social and political messages of Stevie’s she most wants heard, she responded, “Mostly I want people to stop and examine their beliefs and what they mean. And I’m simply using Stevie’s music as a catalyst to do so. I feel that Stevie Wonder had a way of presenting subjects that would get at the heart of our human connectedness and our ability to feel compassion and empathy. Yet he balanced those subjects with a call for personal accountability, especially regarding social justice. Some of his songs like, “Jesus Children Of America” and “Big Brother” address issues surrounding religion and society, or poverty and the systematic disenfranchisement of different minority groups in America. Stevie Wonder’s lyrics give us the opportunity to have open and honest dialogue about such significant human issues.”
Regarding when Stevie Wonder first started to inspire her, Michele said, “Hard to say. This year when Stevie was presented with the Gershwin Prize for Lifetime Achievement award by the White House, Barack Obama described Stevie Wonder’s music as being the “soundtrack” to many of our lives. I thought that was a perfect way to describe what his music is like for me too. His music was always there – in the background of the many stages in my life, and as a part of my growing up. It helped mold me in so many ways. One of my memories is of a warm spring day in high school and just sitting by myself on a hill right outside the classrooms with my little tape player (not a walkman, mind you!) just listening to “Superwoman” off of Stevie Wonder’s Original Musicquarium album. It sounds a little melancholy, but there was something that was so nourishing to my soul about that song! That was enough for me, just sitting there listening and ruminating over the one song. I actually ended up recording this song on my debut album, “I’ll Take Romance” in 1999.”
When asked whether or not she had ever seen him live in concert or met him, Michele said,
“Surprisingly and sadly, no! At least, not yet I should say! Last summer, I had opportunity to see him live and for free at the Taste Of Chicago. But I was already booked to perform at two different private parties that evening! I had to hire a sub to sing at one of the parties. The sub I hired was a good friend of mine and is related to Stevie Wonder’s long time bass player, Nathan Watts. Nathan was supposed to perform with Stevie that night, which means my friend and maybe me could have met Stevie Wonder! Who knows? So not only did I miss the concert, but I feel responsible for my friend missing out, too. If I had it to do again, I think I would have gotten out of work, so me and my friend would’ve gone to see him in concert. Life’s too short to miss out on seeing a musical icon!”
When asked whether or not Stevie Wonder has heard “Messenger” or any of her music and what he thinks about her interpretation, she said, “I’m pretty sure he hasn’t since it’s only been released since October 2009 and it’s not yet a CD.
By, Toianna Wika
the word about the album and get more information about the music out there. It is one of many things I do to self promote.”
When asked about specific short or long term aspirations, goals, and - Undiscovered Magazine, By Toianna Wika

"Take Five With Michele Thomas"

Meet Michele Thomas:
Messenger, the highly anticipated release by jazz vocalist Michele Thomas features bright new arrangements of Stevie Wonder's most spiritually intimate and socially provocative songs.

Album includes: "If It's Magic," "Higher Ground," "Jesus People Of America," "They Won't Go When I Go," and much more.

Moved by the current relevance of these timeless pieces, Michele gives a new voice to one of our most well-loved and prolific American songwriters.

Messenger sheds light on the introspective mind and spirit of Stevie Wonder—through the contemplative soul-tinged and energized vocals of Michele Thomas.


Teachers and/or influences?
Sheila Jordan, Dianne Reeves, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Kurt Elling, Ella Fitzgerald.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
Watching an episode of Mister Rogers when I was six years old.

Your sound and approach to music:
I guess I have been compared to anyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Oleta Adams at times. Not so sure about the sound, but my approach to music encompasses my excitement to express myself along with the neurosis of striving for the high standards of artistry of those greats that have come before me. A little love and neurosis goes a long way in creating music.

Your teaching approach:
My personal mission is to meet each student where he or she is in terms of his or her artistic development. I provide 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. I get down to basics and clean up my student's technical problems—starting my students on breathing exercises and then moving on to focus, support, relaxing tensions, then applying these techniques to song interpretation.

Your dream band:
Musicians I would love to work with in the future are Kurt Elling and Danilo Perez.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
I'd have to say my worst experience to date is having my hair catch on fire at a wedding gig. Candelabras and afros don't mix! The worst part was I wasn't even hurt enough to go home and I had to perform the entire gig with cinged hair. Mortifying!

Favorite venue:
The Green Mill in Chicago to date.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Can't answer that. I have too many.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
It was a gospel album but I can't remember what right now.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Personally, I strive to connect with my audience in an emotional and authentic way. I think people need to feel like your music comes through you.

Did you know...
I never had a middle name until I got married. I decided to make my maiden name my middle name. Thomas is technically my middle name now.

CDs you are listening to now:
Nikka Costa, Everybody Got Their Something (Virgin Records).

Desert Island picks:
Esperanza Spaulding, Esperanza (Concord Records).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Finding a way to remain relevant and progressive. Today's jazz has had to find a new purpose much like civil rights and the Republican Party.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
New ideas are fine, but we need new and effective music for the jazz movement of today. Effective in music means far-reaching and connecting to all types of people.

What is in the near future?
My new project called Messenger. A tribute to Stevie Wonder, with specific arrangements that showed his spiritual/activist side.

By Day:
Voice Teacher.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
Sociologist/Anti-Racism Advocate. - All About Jazz


Michele Thomas

Michele Thomas



Michele Thomas is a jazz musician, vocalist and songwriter from Chicago, IL.  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.