One word can be used to describe Jefferson Thomas' music: American. It is quite literally a “melting pot” – of the places he’s been and the things he’s seen, heard, and felt.
Jefferson started out in his father’s footsteps as a guitarist in his teens, playing professionally all around the US. His guitar style borrowed heavily from his father’s country and blues playing. With the money he had packed away from gigs and a music scholarship, he headed off to college, where he discovered vintage R&B and soul after somehow winding up being the lead vocalist in a nine-piece horn band. A thousand gigs later he had refined the “blue-eyed soul” vocal style that today sits atop his rich amalgam of retro fingerstyle-guitar, alt-pop, and indie rock. But the playing and the singing didn’t always go together.
"After a while I was confused about what I wanted to do musically," he explains. "How do you put a Sam Cooke or a Bobby Bland vocal over Merle Travis or Ry Cooder guitar, then write pop songs and have it all make any sense? And I think the audiences were confused, too. I figured, we’re either gonna work this out or we’re gonna end up in a rubber room somewhere.”
While in college he also interned in the music school’s recording studio and practically lived there while recording his first release. “I was nineteen when I put out my first CD”, says Thomas. “It's probably still out there somewhere, which makes me feel queasy. I don't think I even still own a copy."
Jefferson’s live video of his song "Jacksonville" from an NPR broadcast went viral and introduced him to audiences worldwide. As a result, he embarked on his first European tour, and has subsequently toured overseas every year since, constantly breaking new ground and growing his fan base.
Today Jefferson lives in New York City, where the culturally variegated environment further informs and affects his music. That music has always been more about what’s going on around him than the lyrics he might be working on, or which guitar he might decide to pick up. It will never lose its rootsy, American origins, but with the constant onslaught of so many different sights, sounds, smells, and languages, Jefferson’s music is always evolving and reinventing itself.
Jefferson completed SIXTEEN SUNDAYS - his new album - in late October. It will be available everywhere in January,. He'll hit the road for both US and international tour dates again in 2020. Stay tuned!