Evan Thomas has a story to tell about love – rejection leading to self-acceptance.
Growing up in the “Bible Belt of the North,” his version of pop is influenced by gospel and Christian contemporary music interwoven with the sensibilities of modern pop and R&B and the classic sounds of the 1970s and ‘80s. As a singer-songwriter, he maintains a warm, soulful, expressive sound in all his music. Vulnerable, honest, and diverse, Thomas seeks to speak to the complexities of his human experience.
He has released three singles and a debut album, entitled “Foundations.” In May, he was awarded the Sach’s Grants Arts Innovation Prize to create a Visual EP exploring the issues of race and sexuality in the United States.
“Foundations,” a seven-track record, has a powerful aura that will have music aficionados hooked. The album radiates uninhibited energy with mesmerizing vocal performances and story-telling lyricism. “Foundations” features tracks such as “Like I Do” that radiates a self-empowering story, and “Cool Kid Rules” that tells the tale of always trying to fit in. With melodic elements and heavy basslines, each track is unique and has its role in the album. Through Thomas’ smooth and unique voice, he manages to make a timeless pop/r&b album. Moreover, Thomas radiates a nostalgic R&B style with a modern pop sound. With a distinctive style, he maintains a fully charged arsenal of high octane music that supports the fact that he is set to make a strong impact on the music industry and the charts.
PW recently caught up with Thomas to talk about his music.
Talk a little about your early experience with music. Who were some of your first influences? When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as an entertainer?
For a long time, I was resistant to pursuing a career in entertainment and music. I’ve been singing my whole life. My first solo was “God Bless America” as a kindergartener during the elementary school concert. I was highly involved in music throughout middle school and high school as a lead in the musicals, drum major of the marching band, and president of the choir.
Nevertheless, music (especially the type of music I was interested in at the time – musical theater) was associated with girls and gays growing up, and for religious and cultural reasons I never gave myself permission and was never encouraged to pursue music in the way I wanted to. The acapella group I led in college, Discord Acapella, played an important part in helping me to recognize that I have a unique talent for music, singing, and songwriting.
After years of intense resistance to my sexuality and some conversion therapy, fall 2018 began a long (and ongoing) process of coming out and accepting my sexuality, culminating in September 2019 when I told my close friends and family that I was done trying to change and trying to conform to their ideals of masculinity and morality. It was during these processes of deep self-reflection and revelation that I decided that I must make music … was even born to make music.
For better or for worse, the emotional turmoil of leaving religious fundamentalism and facing the judgment and rejection from peers and mentors provided a wealth of material from which I could write music. Almost a year later, on Aug. 21, 2020, my 24th birthday, I released the first version of my debut album. In many ways, it is my life story in music. Musically, it pulls influences from a lot of different places: Christian contemporary and gospel music, the era of the 1970s, and of course pop and modern R&B.
Earlier this year, you told The Daily Pennsylvanian that your album, “Foundations,” addresses your experiences as a gay Black man from Lancaster. Can you talk a little about how you settled on that theme for the album and also how the project ultimately came together?
I had been writing music privately for a long time, usually as a way to process my feelings. Before “Foundations,” I had written enough music to release an entire Christian Contemporary album. I had written these songs to process my relationship with God and even shared them with my Christian community, but as my world view began to change, so did the subject matter and genre of my music.
The title song, “Foundations,” I wrote as the foundations of my life were falling apart. Everything I worked for, relationships, stability, recognition within my religious community, was becoming null and void. “Never Admit” and “Like I Do” I used to grieve the loss of some of the most meaningful relationships in my life up until that point in life. “New Low” was an internal dialogue about my same-sex attractions.
When and where can people get the album?
It is out now on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Google Play, etc. Evan Thomas – Foundations. This is where you’ll find my Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube linktr.ee/theevanthomas.
As a recent Wharton graduate, do you find yourself immersed in the Philly music scene? Are there any local artists who’ve influenced you?
Hadji Gaviota, Gabi Diaz, Sara Seyed, Tatum Gale, Dummy Fresh are all local artists who inspire me. They are all Penn alumni who have put out music in the past couple of years.
“For a long time, I was resistant to pursuing a career in entertainment and music. [But] I’ve been singing my whole life. My first solo was “God Bless America”as a kindergartener during the elementary school concert.’Singer-songwriter Evan Thomas
What’s ahead for you after the pandemic clears? How do you see your career progressing?
I am working on the Deluxe Version of the album which will include three new songs and two remixes in collaboration with Alex Graf (producer). These songs are important to tell the full story of “Foundations” the album.
In addition, I am working with Harold Milton-Grovie and Shalom Obiago on “Foundations: The Visual EP.” It is a short film featuring three of the songs from the album that tell my story of coming out and self-acceptance in a much more symbolic way. The script is written and one of the music videos has been filmed. I am excited to release it.
I am planning to release the Deluxe and Visual version of “Foundations” probably next May, where we can have in-person showings and release parties.
What are some of the best ways for your fans to keep up with what you’re doing?
Keep up with Evan Thomas on Facebook, Instagram and via evanthomasofficial.com.