She has had three distinct careers: As a musician, a writer and as the former Executive VP and editor at Explocity.com.
In 2020 Thomas’s jazz ensemble is considered one of the topmost jazz bands in India (Rated #1 on Reverbnation Charts) and they have also been appointed by The Indian Council for Cultural Relations as the Indian government’s world-wide ambassador of jazz.
She is by far one of the country’s most beloved vocalists, with a wide career spanning many years.
The album Bangalore Blues is her latest venture with Berkeley-alumnus, piano player Aman Mahajan with whom she has worked for the past 10 years. According to Thomas, “It all started as a Google search. I was looking for a piano player and found Aman just two streets away. A match made in musical heaven.” The pair met in 2011 and have been working steadily ever since, composing and playing music across India and Europe. All songs on the Bangalore Blues have been composed and performed by Thomas and Mahajan, with Thomas having written all lyrics.
BEFORE BANGALORE BLUES
Their first album “I Only Have Eyes For You,” was released in 2013 and this was followed by many live gigs and touring. Their video Watermelon Man from the album is a quirky and unusual take on the song with Thomas singing the song plus all the instrument parts except the piano.
Ron McClure, bassist for the famous American band, Blood, Sweat & Tears: “Provocative! Contempo to the max! You may have a hit on your hands?! Wow! (The album) sounds so good! Really inventive stuff, with a lot of expression.”
Lucky Ali, Indian pop star: “Eyes’ is stylish and cool… That’s what it’s about. It comes across as I listen to the tracks.”
Steve Gorn, New York based crossover jazz flautist: “Radha – ‘Eyes’ is great! Loved your voice and the arrangements.”
Thomas is working on releasing another album called ‘Vocalese’ where she has written words to the trumpet solos of some beloved Chet Baker tunes. This is just a sample. https://soundcloud.com/unkensemble/sets/vocalese/s-H3r4H
FROM WHEN TO NOW
Radha Thomas began headlining as a singer while still in her teens in a rock and roll band called Human Bondage, which was India’s most popular band in the 70s. She soon developed a strong taste for jazz, which is her favourite kind of music. She also began combining the tonal complexities of jazz with the rhythmic nuances of Indian classical music.
Thomas (who was Radha Shottam then) represented India at European jazz festivals and made her way to New York, the home of jazz, where she lived and performed for almost 20 years with such musicians as Michael Brecker, John Scofield, John Faddis, Alex Blake, Buddy Williams, Harvey Mason, Anthony Jackson, John Abercrombie, Ryo Kawasaki, Joe Farrell and many others in some of NYC’s most famous jazz clubs including Sweet Basil, The Bottom Line, Alice Tully Hall and more.
The album “Mirror of my Mind” showcased her talents in the USA for the first time in 1979. You can listen to the album here.
Her Indian classical vocal training came first from Kumar Gandharva in New Delhi at the Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya, and subsequently with Ustad Farid Ud Din Dagar of the famed Dagar Brothers in the dying art of Drupad singing.
She has performed at many jazz festivals around the world and in India including in 2015, 2016 at EuropaFest in Romania, the South Asia Performing Arts Festival in New York, and prior to that, Jazz Yatra, Bengaluru Habba, Indigo Fest, Isai Fest and other popular and prominent festivals in India and abroad. In addition to performing at jazz clubs all over India.
She also hosted a weekly jazz show on Radio Indigo in Bangalore.
Radha Thomas’s tracks