No sophomore slump for contemporary jazz-pop artist Michael J. Thomas, who released his second album, “Driven,” on Thomas’ Harbor Breeze Records imprint. The ten-song set burst out of the gate jolted by a wave of national airplay for the first single, “Baby Coffee,” earning Billboard most-added honors in its debut week, currently in the top 5, followed by an add at SiriusXM’s Watercolors, leading the saxophonist-vocalist to sign a distribution deal for the project with Perry Music Group/Sony Music. “Driven” is his first collection to combine sax-led soul-jazz instrumentals and R&B-pop vocal tunes that showcase a voice that programmers and reviewers have compared to Michael Jackson and George Michael. It’s a varied, exhilarating session written and produced by Thomas and longtime collaborator Shannon Wallace with additional tracks produced by Oli Silk, Trammell Starks and Music Man Dre Forbes. "Baby Coffee" went to #1 on USA Today's (Mediabase) chart as well as #1 on Smooth Jazz Top 20 with Allen Kepler.
It’s been seven years since Thomas issued his instrumental debut album, “City Beat,” and six years since he made his vocal debut with the infectious standalone single “I Think About Amy,” which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard chart after a remix by two-time GRAMMY® winning music producer Paul Brown. Brown has worked with musical giants Luther Vandross, George Benson, and Al Jarreau. Thomas' original song, "Amante Del Vino," from his album, "City Beat," is weaved into the plot of the movie, Contagion, starring Hollywood A-listers Matt Damon, Gweneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet. In September 2011, he hit tinsel town again to team up with Paul Brown. The dynamic pair produced a song Michael co-wrote with Destin musician Shannon Wallace entitled, "Without You," featuring vocalist Wendy Moten who has recorded duos with jazz heavyweights such as Michael McDonald and Peabo Bryson.
Michael J. Thomas grew up in Cecilia, Kentucky, a small town outside of Elizabethtown, surrounded by country music, which easily could have become his muse. Instead, his parents reared him on a steady diet of Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, and Prince. Thus the saxophonist, vocalist, and songwriter learned how to write potent pop hooks set amidst funky and soulful R&B grooves.
“Michael J. Thomas is an excellent and dedicated musician. He is a very fine and intuitive player and has one of the best soprano sax sounds I've ever recorded. I think he's a rising star with a great career in front of him."- Paul Brown, Legendary GRAMMY® winning Music Producer
Initially Thomas studied piano at the age of seven and didn’t pick up the saxophone until seventh grade. Early in high school, he suffered a setback when rejected by the high school band students because he didn’t play proficiently enough. Undeterred, Thomas committed himself to mastering the instrument. By his senior year, he redeemed himself by winning talent shows, performing in the All-State Jazz Band, and was honored with a John Philip Sousa Award. He earned a music scholarship to the University of Kentucky, but left school early to pursue a career as a performer. Thomas was 19 when he joined the Jive Rockets, which opened for the Brian Setzer Orchestra, Big Bad Voo Doo Daddy, and Bill Haley’s Original Comets. After moving to Destin, Florida Thomas began cultivating a following by performing at local venues, private shows, festivals and concerts. He's shared the stage multiple times at the Sea Breeze Jazz Festival with luminaries including Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Boney James, Brian Culbertson, Kirk Whalum, Peter White, Rick Braun, Joyce Cooling, Steve Cole, Euge Groove, Mindi Abair, and Nick Colionne.
His fully alive, 3-dimensional stage presence leaves as much of an impression on fans as his tunes, “…his variety of style and songs along with his audience interaction should assure a bright future for this young entertainer,” - Dee Dee Ritche, Pensacola News Journal