Dubbed "Cookie" by his mother for reasons which are lost in the sands of time, Richard Thomas cut his vocal teeth as a teenager on the street corners of Philadelphia singing doo-wop in the 1960's. At 14, he got his first big gig, opening for B.B. King. During his formative years in the 1970's, Thomas worked at clubs, festivals and other venues with performers whose styles cut across the musical spectrum. There was straight ahead jazz with Houston Person, doo wop with The Tokens, rock with Little Anthony, hard bop with one-time Betty Carter spouse Richard Mixon and others. This resulted in a broad based onthe-job musical education. Thomas' decision to embark on a singing career as a balladeer was the result of an early job where his employee ("a rich lady", says Thomas) bombarded him with Sinatra albums to the point where Thomas "began to like the stuff". His smooth baritone voice lies somewhere in between the deep richness of a Johnny Hartman and Billy Eckstine and the lighter tones of Nat King Cole and Lou Rawls. Like the traditional balladeer, Thomas delivers every song in a straightforward manner, each telling a story. This style is evident on his album The Pleasure of His Company with the Lynn Ariale Trio, released in 1998. With good diction and attention to musical detail, Thomas has all the tools to help fill the void now pervading the world of male vocalists.
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