Earl Thomas parlayed a unique voice and style into blues stardom at the beginning of the ‘90s. Appealing to audiences of all ages, races, creeds, colors and nationalities, he brought a fresh alternative to traditional blues, and in so doing, is recognized as one of the most influential and prolific artists of his generation. His impact has touched audiences across the globe and now, in what he calls his “third act,” he is singing gospel. His latest album “Church Songs” (scheduled for release in the fall of '23) shows that same unique voice and style on songs that he calls “the music of my people” and “the soundtrack to African American history.”
"Church Songs," though not yet officially released, is already gaining momentum and being talked about as an Earl Thomas masterwork. The live show, described as “a high spirit, soul stirring, foot stomping, get up and dance in the aisle tent revival,” was created expressly to accompany the new release and presents The Gospel Ambassadors, a tight 5pc unit of guitar, bass, drums, piano, and congas, and features Sister Leola, a dynamic vocal trio, whose soprano, mezzo soprano, and contralto surround Earl Thomas' powerful delivery with equal power, scope, and scale. Fans are already picking their favorites songs.
“We're doing songs from the African American Gospel Songbook,” says Thomas. “Songs from the Jim Crow era when music was our only joy.” Opening with a re-arrangement of the Dorothy Love Coates hit No Hiding Place Down Here "Church Songs" delivers 11 other classics including The Davis Sisters Old Landmark and Twelve Gates To The City, a brilliant reading of the traditional Swing Low Sweet Chariot, I'm Pressing On b/w Amazing Grace and the closing track, Lord Have Mercy, a skillfully crafted and delivered contemporary piece written by Earl Thomas and produced by MOLIGAN, the French production team of Thomas Molinas and Dimitri Ganevet for their 2021 Global Ancestral Sounds Music Project.
After an accidental entry into the music industry, Earl Thomas was first recognized as a songwriter. Reaching the mainstream with I Sing The Blues, a hit for Etta James, on her 1994 Grammy® Award winning Island Records release “The Right Time," he saw Solomon Burke soon follow with What I've Got To Do, Baby Please Don't Cry, and Whatever It Takes To Get Ya, for his “Homeland” album, then, on his “Black Music For White People,” Screamin Jay Hawkins recorded I Am The Cool. Sir Tom Jones covered Git Me Some. His stunning debut at Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival in 1992 introduced Earl Thomas – who would become known as The Blues Ambassador – to a global audience, and was a preview of his impressive 25 year music career.
With the rare distinction of being recognized around the world as both living legend and modern-day innovator Earl Thomas now takes his place among the giants of African American gospel. The Times said that he "came to epitomize what is known as jubilee singing, a livelier breed of gospel music," adding that "he made it zestier still by adding jazz and blues idioms, creating a sound…like the rock 'n' roll that grew out of it." The New Yorker simply called him "amazing." He is not just a singer borrowing from old traditions, he is defining those traditions and creating a new gospel sound in the 21st century. "Church Songs" is a fitting capstone to an impressive career. Earl Thomas is now The Gospel Ambassador.