Join The Drunken Bean and jazz vocalist, Michele Thomas.
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 rather elegantly 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. As she recalls:
“I remember as a little girl listening to a gospel record of Vanessa Bell Armstrong, holding the record jacket and just crying as I listened to her sing. Her voice made me want to be more in my life. Music can go deeper than just your surface emotion and actually change minds and hearts.”
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. Her continued cultivation of those skills rewarded her with a position in the Chicago All-City choir and a scholarship to the Sherwood Conservatory of Music. Ultimately this led to Michele attending the aforementioned North Park University, graduating with a B.A. in music, and establishing their gospel choir. Her contributions there have been acknowledged through the years and on the 15th anniversary of the choir’s founding she was invited back to perform with prominent gospel musician, Richard Smallwood.
Michele’s cultivation of the choir program caught the eyes of others and in 1996 and 1998, she was invited to Sweden to help teach and perform gospel music to her audiences. The educational aspect of her career continued on state side as for nearly a decade, Michele has been working at her own lesson studio, the Soulstream Music Studio of Contemporary Voice. Thanks to her work in conducting choirs and arranging vocal parts, even dating back to her childhood, Michele had essentially been teaching for most of her life, and the studio was just a continuation of that. By offering private lessons, Michele could really help bring out a singer’s individuality while also opening herself up to the community.