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The Thomas Family

Band Bio

Creating harmonious music together has always been a favorite endeavor of the Thomas family household. The parents, Frank and Marilyn, began this tradition on their wedding day, and as their family began to grow, the couple was humbled to discover that each of their children also demonstrated a musical aptitude for playing and singing. Over the years, they realized their natural harmonies and preferred instrumentation were best suited for the bluegrass genre, and since serving the Lord with their music is an important focus of their lives, they mainly perform Gospel tunes of yesteryears in hopes of being a spiritual blessing to their audience. Today, their family band includes Dad strumming his twelve-string guitar; David, the oldest, playing the mandolin; Jameson plucking his cello like a bass; Ella striking up a tune on her fiddle; and of course, Mom helping mainly with organizing performance opportunities and motivating everyone to practice well. The Thomas family band has enjoyed performing throughout the Southeast – as a ministry and just for fun – at retirement centers, in churches, at music festivals, for weddings, at restaurants, on radio shows, and at Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor, a local music shop and bluegrass jam hangout. For more information about their group, their website can be found at thomasfamilymusic.com or on their Facebook page. To contact, please email mkhthomas@aol.com or call 803.926.5841 (this landline also forwards to voicemail or Marilyn’s cell, so please let it ring).

Contact:
Marilyn Thomas
(803) 926-5841
mkhthomas@aol.com

The Thomas Family's Website

The Thomas Family on Facebook

Band Members

Frank Thomas
Vocals & Guitar

From a very early age, music has been a part of Frank’s life. He learned to sing harmony standing next to his mother, who sang alto, during the song services in church.  Today, if you ask him what part he sings, the response will be “what comes out” because he can hear what is missing in a song and fill it in. His formal musical training started with piano lessons when he was eight years old. At age eleven, he mowed lawns to earn money to purchase his first guitar and taught himself how to play it. Also, in high school he played the trumpet in the school band. As a teenager, he sang and played guitar and piano with a number of different groups and preferred the four-part harmony of a southern gospel/blue grass-style quartet. Southern gospel groups, such as the Inspirations and Easter Brothers, were some of his favorites. While attending Bible college, he was part of a university men’s choir, and in the dorm, he would sing with an informal group of guys that called themselves the “Unrighteous Brothers” (a name that was based on the passage, “There is none righteous, no not one,” from Romans 3:10). As a freshman in college, he purchased the twelve-string guitar he currently owns and continues to play today. After finishing school, he became interested in other instruments, such as the banjo, mandolin, and harmonica. Because he and his wife, Marilyn, consider music to be an important part of their lives, they have made it a priority to train their children in music and enjoy singing and playing together as a family.

Marilyn Thomas
Vocals

 As mainly the organizer of the group, Marilyn’s musical ability is limited to vocals and an occasional penny whistle solo. She grew up in Kentucky and was exposed to music from infancy by a mother who sang around the house, a sister and her father’s family who all played the piano by ear, and a small Kentucky country church that sang almost every song within its traditional hymn book. In the home, family favorites often heard crooning from 8-tracks, records, or cassettes included John Denver, the Nelons, and the Statler Brothers. As a tween, Marilyn began singing soprano in the church choir, but a true awakening to music occurred when she joined the junior high band as a clarinet player. That experience transformed her musical understanding, and she began to sing alto, since those notes where better suited to her natural range. Throughout her life, she has sung in church choirs and in other sacred music groups and even played clarinet in a church orchestra for a number of years. She traded in the clarinet for a less complicated and lighter penny whistle, since it’s easier to handle and its sound is more closely suited to a bluegrass setting. Currently, she is the primary parent responsible for toting kids to lessons and encouraging them to practice while maintaining the family’s busy schedule, so that they can participate in musical opportunities throughout the Southeast.

David Thomas
Mandolin & Vocals

When the first offspring was born in 1994, the Thomas family didn’t wait very long to include him in church specials. From about the age of four, he would occasionally sing with dad and mom and eventually joined the children’s choir at church and in school. In third grade, he began taking piano lessons, and in fourth, he joined the band with a trumpet in hand. As he entered the high school years, he also auditioned into the South Carolina Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Around this same time, David’s voice began to deepen to a solid bass that has given the group a strong vocal foundation.  He didn’t start playing the mandolin until the family was hired to perform for a country wedding reception. Jameson was initially planning to play it, but when the group discovered that a cello could fill in for a bass, David picked up the mandolin and has played it ever since. He has continued to play the piano as an accompanist for a private school choir as well as for string solos and duets performed by his brother and sister. Most of the time, however, he can be found strumming his mandolin as he belts out the deep bass with his family band, performing at church, for crowds at Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor, and within various musical locations in the area.

Jameson Thomas
Vocals & Bass

At the age of four, the cellist of the family began his personal journey in music and blazed the trail for the Thomas family offspring into the world of strings. At that time, a friend of the family, Sarah Jackson, was working on her bachelor’s degree in music performance at the nearby University of South Carolina, but she had recently become certified to teach the Suzuki method to young children. In a conversation at a social activity, she mentioned to Marilyn that she was accepting new students and teaching youngsters how to play the cello. At first, the prospect seemed outlandish, but over time, and with Jameson’s approval, the family accepted the opportunity. Soon, he was taking lessons and quickly learning how to play. For most of his musical career, Jameson has played classically, including joining the South Carolina Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in fourth grade. His first attempts at plucking the cello like a bass to create a bluegrass sound, however, began accidentally. After being hired to perform for a wedding reception, the family band had assigned Jameson the mandolin, which he played fairly well because of his extensive ear training on the cello. When David was experimenting with the mandolin during a practice, Jameson jokingly began plucking his cello like a bass, and a new sound was born and embraced.  That revelation occurred three years ago, and the Thomas Family Band’s bluegrass sound was complete. He continues to play classically but performs with the family at church, Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor, nursing homes, festivals, and other venues.

Ella Thomas
Fiddle & Vocals

Ella’s relationship with her violin also began at the age of four when she enrolled in the University of South Carolina’s Suzuki program and with a private teacher in 2007. She continues to thrive as a classical student in this program and the local Philharmonic Youth Orchestra until the present day. In 2013, however, her musical approach began to broaden when she attempted to learn an arrangement that employed fiddling technique, but she encountered some difficulties in mastering such a diverse style of playing without proper instruction. Fortuitously, an article in The State newspaper featured an award-winning fiddler, named Ashley Carder, who frequented Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor. At the next available opportunity, Ella visited the Pickin’ Parlor and met a regular, Van Price, who taught her a few bars of a popular fiddle tune. Since then, Ella was able to meet Ashley Carder and has benefited greatly from his expertise and insight. She also takes weekly fiddle lessons with Kristen Harris, another state-champion and old-time musician, and continues to add folk and traditional melodies to her repertoire. She still plays classically but performs regularly at church, Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor, nursing homes, libraries, festivals, restaurants, jams, and anywhere else the door of opportunity opens.

Established in 1991 and reactivated in 2014, the SC BTMA is a non-profit organization chartered by the state of South Carolina.