VanderCook College of Music
Faculty & Staff
Michele Thomas is an American jazz musician, vocalist, songwriter and educator from Chicago, IL. Born the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher in the Church of God In Christ, Thomas grew up on a steady diet of gospel music. The impact it had on her, even at a young age, was profound.
These feelings, along with her innate talents, led to Thomas arranging and conducting her church’s choir while she was still in her preteen years. Her continued cultivation of those skills rewarded her with a position in the Chicago All-City Choir and a scholarship to the Sherwood Conservatory of Music. This ultimately led to her attending North Park University, graduating with a BA in music, and establishing the first-ever gospel choir in the university’s history. Thomas’ cultivation of the choir program caught the eyes of community choir leaders in Sweden and in 1996 and 1998, she was invited to teach and perform gospel music for Scandinavian audiences. These collective experiences furthered her dedication to music education and in 2004 she formed the Soulstream Music Studio of Contemporary Voice.
Thomas furthered her studies after college, attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst Jazz In July Workshop under the tutelage of Sheila Jordan. She began study of the Somatic Voice Work-The Lovetri Method in 2011 and has recently reached Level III Certification.
Thomas has taught voice and choir at Clarendon Hills Music Academy, Merit School of Music, Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church and the Maywood Fine Arts Association. She also most recently taught jazz voice and directed the Vocal Jazz Ensemble at DePaul University. She was a featured clinician focusing on CCM singing for Mark S. Hubbard’s (former president of the Grammys’ Chicago Chapter) Chicago Made Music Collective, and Next Showcase Chicago. And she has served as a music supervisor and vocal
coach for the second season of the HBO Max acclaimed comedy series, “Southside” in 2020.
Thomas has performed both jazz and gospel music regionally and abroad. As a bandleader, she has appeared at such prestigious Chicago venues as the Green Mill, Winter’s Jazz Club, Pete Miller’s and Green Dolphin Street, as well as featured performances at the Jazz Showcase, Constellation, Chicago City Winery and Andy’s Jazz Club. She has also been invited to perform at concerts and festivals presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Little Black Pearl Workshop, the Edgerton Arts Council, the Evanston and Wicker Park Chambers of Commerce, and Northwestern University. In 2017, Thomas was a featured performer at the Chicago Jazz Festival.