b. Conyers, Georgia, USA. Despite being one of Nashville’s biggest production stars, Thomas’ activities rarely include the country music that dominates the region. As he told Billboard magazine in 1994, he was once told that ‘you’ll never be able to make pop records here’. He has achieved just that, working with artists as successful as Amy Grant, Vanessa Williams, Selena, Sophie B. Hawkins and James Ingram. Thomas got his start in music by playing in his father’s country band from the age of nine onwards. He joined the gospel act the Sharrett Brothers, for whom he wrote several songs, while finishing his college studies. The first time his ability as a songwriter was fully recognized, however, was when Ronnie Milsap included two of his compositions on his Milsap Magic album in the late 70s. By 1979 he had relocated to Nashville to become the staff writer for Milsap Music. A year later he took a similar post with gospel label Word Records (for whom he had recorded with the Sharrett Brothers). As well as two of his own solo albums for Word, he became producer to Carman, First Call, Paul Smith, the Gaither Vocal Band, Kenny Marks and the Imperials. After collaborating with BeBe And CeCe Winans, producing their 1987 Grammy Award-winning debut, he established his own independent production and publishing company, Yellow Elephant Music, in Franklin, Tennessee. From then on he was linked with a series of high-profile artists, beginning with Whitney Houston (co-writing ‘Take A Chance’), Vanessa Williams (‘Save The Best For Last’, ‘The Sweetest Days’ and ‘Colors Of The Wind’, from the hit Walt Disney film Pocahontas) and Amy Grant (‘Baby, Baby’ ‘I Will Remember You’ and ‘House Of Love’ alongside most of her 90s output). Since 1992 he has owned and operated Bennett House in Franklin as his own studio complex, which includes a separate commercial facility. In November 1995 Thomas returned to the stage for the first time in over a decade, and also signed Yellow Elephant to a contract with Sony Records as their exclusive production partner.
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