15 June 1972, Aurora, Chicago, Illinois, USA. One of the few soul singers to gain release on Sean Puffy Combs hip-hop dominated Bad Boy label, Thomas earned critical praise for his adherence to traditional songwriting values. After several years playing low-key bar gigs around Chicago, Thomas joined Bad Boy in 1997 as their in-house backing vocalist, appearing on releases by rap artists such as the Notorious B.I.G. , Black Rob, and Combs himself. He also contributed to albums by other rappers including Noreaga and Raekwon. Emotional, Thomas debut, was released in 2000. This largely self-written album, recorded with a stellar cast of producers including Mario Winans and Heavy D, eschewed samples and beguiled the listener instead with its reliance on melody and classic song structure, a bold move in an era dominated by urban R&B vocalists singing over mechanical beats. The obvious reference points were the classic 70s soul albums of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Teddy Pendergrass, while stand-out tracks included the duet with Kelly Price on Giving You All My Love and the organ-driven Cold, Cold World. Emotional climbed into the US Top 10, buoyed by the radio success of the single I Wish.
Thomas spent a long time fashioning a follow-up album, with Lets Talk About It finally released in March 2004. This noticeably mellower collection of material lacked any track as memorable as the first albums I Wish, but was nevertheless another classy slice of modern soul.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.