Kelly Thomas is the first lady of Cincinnati Music. She spends her days shaping young minds and her nights being a champion of the Cincinnati Music Scene.
Kelly is the founder of the Rivertown Music Club, a board member for Cincinnati Heritage Music Foundation, has been a member of The Hayseed Tabernacle Choir, Wilder, The Tammy WhyNots, and Second Sister for a start. She also consistently books benefit shows around town and the Queen City Storytellers-Songwriter Rounds.
Everyone knows you from from your numerous musical ventures. What are some things we may not know about Kelly Thomas?
I'm kind of an open book. I do have a very entertaining inner dialogue going on most of the time, it's like a Saturday Night Live episode in my mind most days. For instance, once I had a crush on a man who happened to have a neck tattoo, I'm a teacher (a very conservative field) so I was having a conversation with myself in my head, that went something like..."Can I love a man with a neck tattoo?" Then I hear that inner voice say, with a southern accent, of course..."Wellll, it iiis a neck tattoo of Jeeeeeesus!" Loophole! It's pretty much that kind of ridiculousness all the time.
What have been some of the most memorable shows for you thus far? Ones either you have played or put together…
I've been performing so long now that is a really tough question. I will say that it's not usually the highly anticipated shows that standout, like a CD release. The best stage moments usually are the random gig, where the band is in the pocket, and you can feel a real connection to each other and to the people in the room listening. I live for those moments. I suspect it feels a lot like flying. As far as love and joy, Get Stuffed, the night before Thanksgiving was so joyful. Every band that played had a blast and at the end of the night everyone was happy. That is the best feeling! You're in it together!
As a woman in Cincinnati music, do you feel that your gender has ever hindered your path? Do you feel that you have to work harder to get your voice heard?
I'm a bit of a hard ass when it comes to this topic. I truly believe if you want to blame lack of success or obstacles on gender, you probably could, but I personally don't invest any energy into that type of thinking. My songs are written from the female perspective; my voice is female. Those are just the facts. I don't think it makes songwriting, performing or booking gigs harder or easier. If people aren't connecting to my songs, I go back to writing and try to dig deeper, be more honest, get more creative. If I'm booking a show, I do my job. I get the details, I ask for the amount of money my band needs, I promote the show. Once you get a good rapport with a venue, then your reputation of being competent, easy to work with, and solid musically, is what ensures your success. I've never seen my gender as a factor. The only thing I can see that may be related to being a nurturing female, that has ever set me back, is my natural inclination to support budding artists. In the past I've made the mistake of investing more of my love and time into helping other bands and I quit pushing myself. I'm careful to keep a balance now.
What is the most rebellious thing you have ever done?
I can’t be tamed!! I say this, jokingly, all the time, but really it's the truth. I'm all heart, so if I'm passionate about something, I'm all in. This may take me down some crazy paths, but at this point in my life, I know to just jump on in. I don't give a shit what conventional wisdom says, if I'm believing in something, I'm going to follow my heart. I think, really, this is just being truly genuine, but it often puts you in a position to go against the grain. (Rebel, Rebel). It's pretty sad, really, shouldn't everyone be living their truth? Who cares what other people think you "should" be doing?
What do you want people to take away with them when they think of you?
I hope I leave people feeling loved and maybe with a little more insight into how special they really are.
March is Women’s History Month, in celebration, CincyMusic.com will be featuring important women behind the music scene in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is the home of so many amazing women within the music industry. These women include; a Venue Owner, a well known DJ, Educators, the First Lady of Cincinnati Music, an Assistant Program Director, Writers, Photographers, and a beloved fan.
Stay tuned to CincyMusic.com for our Features on these talented women this month!