Earl Thomas & The Gospel Ambassadors ft Sister Leola (USA)

Thu 8th August 2024
Clear

Doors 6.30pm, on stage 7.30pm. Part standing.

N.B. All TLR Chorus seat reserves are now taken, remaining seats are first come, first served and unreserved. Although you’ll probably want to be on your feet for this one!

The return of the great Earl Thomas, this time with a spectacular, 10-piece all-American line-up, straight off of their performance at Ronnie Scott’s the night before!

Earl Thomas & The Gospel Ambassadors ft Sister Leola

"With his dynamic band and stunning backing vocalists, Earl Thomas brings a tent revival! A high spirit, roof raising, foot stomping, hand clapping, get up and dance in the aisles gospel show that cannot be ignored," says the San Diego Reader

His latest project, after a three-year hiatus, is all vintage gospel or what the singer says is ‘The music I was always meant to do'. His mother always said that he was a gospel singer and now he is finally performing songs that have been, for decades, the soundtrack of African American culture and history. Earl says: "These songs stand for our struggle, our pain, our strength, our hope, our perseverance, our triumph, and our joy."

As a self-professed griot, Earl Thomas maintains the African tradition of oral history through music. As a singer songwriter, his music - deeply rooted in the blues and gospel - is infused with contemporary sensibilities of rock, soul, and rhythm & blues. And, as a purveyor of African American tradition and culture, his is a potent mix of the traditional and contemporary, expressed in an impressive music catalogue and a vibrant 30 year career in music. With all that he has accomplished, it's ironic that Earl Thomas stumbled into the music industry by accident.

He was born into a musical family in rural Tennessee and grew up in a house brimming with music; his father was a bluesman and his mother was a gospel singer so music is in his veins. But his ambitions led elsewhere, as Thomas considered music to be self expression, something he did with the family or church. "I could carry a tune and loved singing along with the radio but I never considered music a career path." It seems instead that music found him.

For a college practical exam, Earl Thomas and his friend, Philip Wootton, made an LP, following the instructions in a book called 'How To Make And Sell Your Own Recording.' Complying with the step-by-step process, Thomas and Wootton wrote songs, hired musicians, booked a studio and produced an album for their exam. The result was a record called 'I Sing The Blues,' and the only dream Thomas and Wootton had for the LP were to receive a good grade. And that they did.

But instead of stopping at Chapter 8 in the book, the duo followed the instruction in Chapter 9 and mailed copies of the album to radio stations, magazines, and newspapers. One landed on the desk of pop music writer Buddy Seagal at the San Diego Union Tribune and, impressed by what he heard, Buddy sent a copy to Herb Cohen, the president of Bizarre-Straight Records.

Within a month, Earl Thomas had been offered a two-album deal with the record label. World's away from college projects, Earl Thomas was now living a whirlwind career, with the LP being repackaged as a CD to be renamed 'Blue...Not Blues,' and distributed worldwide. Meanwhile, Earl Thomas was booked to perform in Switzerland at Montreux Jazz Festival, while music legend Etta James recorded the title track of 'I Sing The blues.' Solomon Burke and Screaming Jay Hawkins followed suit, recording other tracks from the album, and Thomas extensively began his first-ever international tour. Just like that, he had become a professional musician and overnight sensation. For the next 30 years, Earl Thomas would tour the world, from North, Central, and South America to Scandinavia, United Kingdom, and Europe and Asia. He had even done a show at the North Pole.

Within this time, he has released an astonishing 20 albums, several having received critical acclaim. He has two Grammy nominations, and four San Diego Music Awards, his songs have also been covered by Sir Tom Jones, Will Wilde, and Shemekia Copeland. His music has been featured in feature films such as '40 Shades of Blue' and ‘In The Mix' and television shows like ER and the Netflix original 'Hacks.'

For Earl Thomas, his highlights have included performing on stage with BB King and Gladys Knight at Montreux Jazz Festival, performing at London's legendary Ronnie Scott's, opening shows for BB King, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and his musical idol Ike Turner. Performing over 200 shows a year he still holds down a 10-year residency at San Francisco's Biscuit & Blues. "A great musician once told me, 'You gotta hustle your gigs man.'"