It’s not everyday that you come across a voice as soulful and rich as this one. I mean it, this is not a drill people! Putting the autotune fanatics to bed is Terence, otherwise known as TA Thomas. What’s already been a whirlwind of a journey, the self-taught singer, musician, and performer, has graced the world with his debut single, ‘June 15th’.
Growing up in Mississippi Delta, his adventure in music began when he started playing the piano at his local church. Encouraged by his family to explore his talent further, he eventually took the stage at local talent shows and found himself on tour with Grammy-award winning James Fortune and Fiya. But it doesn’t stop there. Back when TikTok was called Musical.ly, Thomas gained viral success from uploading videos of him singing online which caught the eyes of Sony, who at the time were looking for the next big boy band. Swiftly joining Next Down Town who went on to collaborate with 6LACK and Rich The Kid, TA Thomas is finally stepping out as a solo artist.
Clash got the chance to catch up with TA Thomas ahead of his debut single. Speaking all things music, his experience in a boy band, to his debut release, and more – tap in below to see what he had to say.
Walk me through your younger years. What was the young TA Thomas like growing up?
I was a very active kid. Super outspoken and wasn’t shy at all. Growing up my family was very close, and we spent a lot of time doing fun things together like traveling. My mom also owned a local beauty shop, where I used to play drums using her perm boxes and sing or preach with her hair combs while she was doing hair.
I read that in your early days you were encouraged to play piano by your family at your community church. Did you come from a musical background or were your family just supportive of you wanting to explore music?
Actually, my family wasn’t very musical at all. I pulled a lot of inspiration from my sisters, who were in band at school when I was little. My family bought me instruments and always supported my passion for music, which led to me learning how to play the piano by ear and eventually started singing.
From performing at local talent shows to touring with James Fortune and Fiya in College – in between those years, were you exploring a sound of your own?
During this gap I was in school actually. I spent a lot of free time in the musical hall at Jackson State playing the piano and perfecting my vocals. My musical taste was all over the place, but little did I know, I was honing in on my sound. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do; I was just taking opportunities as they came. The focus was school, but music was pulling me out of the classroom.
Are there any artists in particular that you think have helped shaped your artistry over the years?
Of course! Tank, Kim Burrell, Brandy, Ray Charles and take6. I feel like my vocal style is a fusion of all of them combined. I studied them a lot while I was in college and stayed up late watching their YouTube live performances.
You were then picked up by a record label and placed into a boy group called Next Down Town which turned a few heads! How did you find this experience? Was there anything you learned about yourself or as an artist?
I wasn’t looking to be in a group, it just kind of happened. Me and the boys met online during my junior year of college, and around that same time Sony was looking to sign a guy group. We moved to LA and blew up on Musically, now known as Tik Tok. I felt like my journey in the group was my artist development. I really got to explore my voice range and learn how to record. When I look back, I’m very thankful for that experience. I learned so much about the industry and formed my own relationships, which led me to this moment right now.
Next Down Town came to an end and your journey as a solo artist was kick started! You started sharing covers online, was there one in particular that catapulted you even further?
I think the real spark was a piece I curated in 2021 for Valentine’s Day, called ‘From TA With Love’. This video was my first piece of content to go viral!
You wrote a song for Chris Brown’s album ‘Breezy’ which ended up being a Grammy nominated project! Are there any more songs that you’ve written that we may recognise?
This was my first artist placement! It was a super dope moment, because I wrote this song with one of my NTD brothers, Trevon. While it felt amazing to have our work as song writers nominated for a Grammy, I’m focused on developing my own catalogue for the moment… but you never know!
Let’s talk about ‘June 15th’, what inspired this release? What is it about this song that made you want to release this as your debut track?
‘June 15th‘ is a very special record to me. Not only is it my debut single, it’s also the day that I met someone who was a part of my life for a very long time. The song tells the story of two lovers, who basically grew apart from each other. If you could imagine what a “Cold War” relationship would feel like, this is how I felt. I specifically wanted to put this one out first because it felt different from everything else on the project. The melodies showcase my vocals in a way that I’ve never heard, and it’s presenting my more vulnerable side as I am a very emotional person.
Creatively, what’s your process?
It depends – sometimes I start ideas at home on the piano and take them to producers to build out. Other times, I’m in the studio with my two right hand writers and we lay melodies to different tracks sent to us. From there I communicate to them exactly what it is I want to talk about.
A little birdy told me you are working towards your forthcoming EP! You’ve mentioned that it’ll be a mix of classic and contemporary sounds – what can we expect?
My debut project is a love letter to R&B. It’s a fusion of classic and contemporary sounds that reflect my passion for the genre. This album tells the story of a love that has gone from passionate to passive, from lovers to roommates. It’s a battle of passive disconnections and fleeting emotions. The album takes listeners on a spiritual journey and offers a haven for those experiencing what can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions.
Putting the music aside, what is it you like to do for fun? What makes you happy?
It’s simply spending time with my family and loved ones. I’ve lost a lot of people in the last decade, including my mother. Experiencing that, made me become way more intentional with spending time with my folks. I can truly say my family and friends bring me all the joy in the world.
What else can we expect to see from you this year?
My goal is to tour this fall, allow my songs to reach the world, and maybe even venture into some acting. I’m feeling very motivated and inspired about my new EP dropping this August.
Words: Elle Evans / @elleevans98