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Michele Thomas

  • michelethomasmusic@gmail.com
  • Director of the Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • ​​​​​​​

  • Jazz Studies

Education

BA North Park University


Michele Thomas is an American jazz musician, vocalist and songwriter from Chicago, IL. From growing up singing in church, becoming the founding director of North Park University’s gospel choir, to performing and teaching in Scandinavia, and carrying that skill back to her hometown, Michele Thomas’ talents have carried her through a fantastic array of experiences within the massive world that is, music.

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 first ever gospel choir in the university’s history. 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 and composer, Richard Smallwood.

Michele’s cultivation of the choir program caught the eyes of community choir leaders in Sweden and in 1996 and 1998, she was invited to teach and perform gospel music for Scandinavian audiences. These collective experiences furthered Michele’s dedication to music education and in 2004 she formed the Soulstream Music Studio of Contemporary Voice.

Soulstream Music Studio’s platform was derived from Michele’s deep and personal conviction to bring more culturally representative connection to vocal teaching overall. Wishing to take this mission further, Michele devoted her continuing education to studying vocal science as it is related to vocal pedagogy in order to teach functional vocal technique that is catered towards Contemporary Commercial Music genres; a term that was both coined and stands as the impetus for the groundbreaking methodology, “Somatic Voicework ™, The LoVetri Method - a method which serves to equalize all genres and voices as it pertains to practical vocal pedagogy. Michele has used the principles of this program as the basis of teaching and mentoring emerging artists in jazz, r&b, pop, hip-hop, gospel, folk and rock styles.

As an artist 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 performances, like her music itself, are deep and emotional - using her voice and songwriting to stir something deeper within people.

Michele has performed both jazz and gospel music regionally and abroad and as a bandleader Michele has appeared at such prestigious venues in Chicago as the Green Mill, Winter’s Jazz Club, Pete Miller’s, Green Dolphin Street as well as featured performances at the Jazz Showcase, Constellation, Chicago City Winery and Andy’s Jazz Club. Michele has also been invited to perform at concerts and festivals presented by The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Little Black Pearl Workshop, The Edgerton Arts Council, The Evanston and Wicker Park Chambers of Commerce, and Northwestern University. In 2017, Michele was a featured performer at the Chicago Jazz Festival.

Other jazz greats have taken note of Michele’s sound including the late Kevin Mahogany saying, “Best singer by far! Great feeling! Great voice! I'm in love!” And Grammy award winning jazz artist Yusef Lateef commenting that, “(She) has her own vocal sound, which is beautiful by the Grace of God.” Michele has recorded two albums, “I’ll Take Romance” (2000) and “Messenger” (2012) with the help of some of Chicago’s finest session musicians including her husband, Darren Scorza on drums and producing. And with her next studio recording, “The Assumption” slated for 2020, it’s no wonder JazzReview.com deemed her as, “one of those new artists that you anxiously wait to hear more from..."