Release date: October 2, 2020
Vocalist, composer, arranger and bandleader Brianna Thomas's new album is Everybody Knows, produced by Grammy © Award Winner Brian Bacchus. Showcasing a uniquely soulful and captivating voice, Brianna Thomas presents a book of songs that encapsulates common human experiences and honors the universal truths that “everybody knows.” This collection of reimagined classics alongside some exquisite originals is brought to fruition by The Brianna Thomas Band, a group that embodies a dynamic and rich sound, influenced by the diverse backgrounds and regions each member comes from. This first rate band features the Peoria, Illinois native alongside pianist Conun Pappas (New Orleans, LA), guitarist Marvin Sewell (Chicago, IL), bassist Ryan Berg (Minneapolis, MN), percussionist Fernando Saci (San Paulo, Brazil) and drummer Kyle Poole (Los Angeles, CA). The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Steve Miller (who wrote the liner notes for this album) considers himself Brianna’s mentor. The soulful expression and masterful instrumentation exemplified by Brianna’s ensemble here, resembles that of her father’s band, with whom the vocalist first exhibited her blossoming talents at the tender age of six.
A follow up to her 2014 debut, You Must Believe in Love, Everybody Knows serves to remind listeners of the virtues and ideals that, although sometimes difficult to practice, are known by everyone. The music heard on Everybody Knows celebrates the good in humanity and strives to encourage continued compassion for all – the bandleader’s hauntingly sentimental, yet when called for, powerful performance illustrates and elevates this sentiment. Everybody knows “It’s a Sin to Tell A Lie”; Everybody understands the need to forgive (“How Much Forgiveness”); Many are familiar with both the pain (“Since I Fell For You”) and joys (“The More I See You”) of love and Nina Simone’s original, civil rights anthem “Mississippi Goddamn” is a story everybody still knows today. The vocalist lent her compositional talents to two tracks on the album: “How Much Forgiveness” and “I Belong to You” Posing the question, “how much forgiveness can belong to you?,” Thomas reflects upon the practice of understanding. “I Belong to You” tells the tale of unrequited love.
Brianna’s singing is deeply enriched by an understanding of masterful voices. Sarah Vaughan’s influence contributes to Brianna’s artistic savvy, as well as a keen instrumental perspective, while her stylistic breadth and vocal grandeur is evocative of Dianne Reeves. Her performance carries a coyness reminiscent of Nancy Wilson alongside an Ella-esque skill and enthusiasm for scatting. Perhaps Brianna’s greatest asset is the soulfulness of her sound.
Growing up in the US Heartland on the Illinois River, Brianna’s hometown of Peoria, IL served as a well-rounded musical environment that fostered Brianna’s emerging abilities. Brianna’s first music teacher and biggest influence was her father CJ Thomas, a vocalist, drummer and creative powerhouse, and it was with his band, “Dave & The Dynamics” that Brianna took her first stage, at the age of six. Dave & The Dynamics played a gamut of music so wide that it gave freedom of thought and expression and surpassed the boundaries of separatism and judgment. This group played virtually anything soulful that moved them: from James Brown, The Temptations, Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder to Louis Armstrong, and John Coltrane to Bonnie Raitt, Prince and Earth, Wind & Fire. Brianna recalls, “my father always told me “it doesn’t matter what you sing, but whatever you sing, sing it with conviction!”
With this offering, The Brianna Thomas Band hopes this music evokes a feeling of unity and understanding. Using her unmistakable talents for good, Brianna Thomas “hopes people can find common ground in the diversity of this music and freedom in any truth they hear.”
"If you like a little soul with your jazz – maybe with a little side of funk – then I’ve certainly got the vocalist for you: Brianna Thomas." Read this article here.
ROOTS MUSIC REPORT
"Everybody Knows is a jazz-flavored soul album that also makes a beautiful thematic statement that the world needs more hope, compassion and care. Brianna Thomas’ powerful style of vocalizing is characterized by confident, articulate and intricate jazz phrasing." Read this review here.
"Thomas “gets it.” Her take is slow and edgy, building to a wailing lament. She’s living the lyric. I’m sure Duke would take his top hat off to her." Read this review here.
"Slipping in a little message music along the way, this modern soul set is a solid ear opener that works smartly from start to finish." Read this review here.
NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY
"History may judge this a career-defining album by one of this era’s most dynamic voices in jazz, and a lot of other styles too." Review here.
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"Brianna Thomas continues to amaze with powerful delivery and soulful understanding of classic tunes (plus two originals) on Everybody Knows (Breathline), her sophomore album." Voxnews piece here on page 9.
"It has been six years since Brianna Thomas's debut, and her forthcoming album, Everybody Knows, is a carefully curated presentation of reimagined songs paired with original compositions." Read the Fall preview here.
"..she gives the impression of inventing the song in the moment, as if it’s never been done before. And Thomas does this without bending the material out of shape, deconstructing or détourning it." Read the review here.
"6 Cool Things in Music This Week; 1. Brianna Thomas, "Everybody Knows." This album is a multigenre excursion of soulfulness, evoking many moods and emotions. Thomas' flexible delivery is effortless and assured, particularly on her rendition of Nina Simone's "Mississippi Goddam." Read here.
OFF THE TRACKS
"Brianna Thomas is an utter powerhouse of a vocalist – blessed with a jazz sensibility, absolutely, but able to move that material right down into the funky soul and R&B worlds." Review here.
THE JAZZ PAGE
"Brianna Thomas continues to ascend as one of the powerful and engaging voices on the music scene today. Everybody Knows, Thomas’ second recording shows even more depth and range as a singer." Review here.