Q&A with Louisiana-based singer Crystal Thomas, easily relates to other cultures and her music is universally embraced by all

"Blues has always healed. For the African American culture, music has been the one solid constant in our lives. We naturally express ourselves in songs through music. Whether we a pushing for freedom, or celebrating love and life, music has always had a major impact on our lives and played the major part of being able to communicate."

Crystal Thomas: The Truth of Music

Crystal Thomas using her voice as a positive influence and as encouragement. She enjoys lifting people up to be better, love better, and live better. Crystal Thomas is big and she's bluesy, and raw. She can grind a note and use it any way she wants. After all, she grew up listening to Muddy and Jimmy Reed and Johnnie Taylor and rapped, too. Gritty music is in her blood. She sang before she talked. She belts it out in church, in juke joints, wowing the crowds in Hong Kong, Japan and Europe. This woman sings with the kind of raw emotion that makes you glad you are alive - even if life it tough. Crystal is the real deal. She can tell you about growing up in Mansfield, Louisiana in the deep country. She remembers playing DJ while her family played cards and picking up the trombone in fifth grade because her brother had it and her mom didn't want to purchase another instrument.                                          (Crystal Thomas / Photo by Taki Nishino)

Her new album “NOW DIG THIS (2021) by Dialtone Records pairs Crystal with a super-star band that includes Lucky Peterson on keys allows her to lean into the mic and sing. Lucky's played with everyone - Otis Rush, Etta James, Bobby Bland. Johnny and Jason Moeller offer up guitar and drums - Johnny finding time between tours with the Thunderbirds and Jason with the cred that comes from backing artists from the Thunderbirds to Jewel Brown and Little Joe Washington. The big round sound bass player extraordinaire, Chuck Rainey - think Aretha, Fats Domino, Barbara Streisand, and hundreds more. Crystal Thomas' songs are heartfelt, soulful arrangements that whet the appetite for more. Like a good gumbo, Crystal Thomas has all the right ingredients to feed your soul. Louisiana-born Crystal "Country Girl" Thomas travels all over the world to perform in many venues. She easily relates to other cultures and her music is universally embraced by all.

Interview by Michael Limnios        Special Thanks: Eddie Stout (Dialtone Records, TX)

How has the Blues and Soul music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Blues and Soul music has been my blueprint of helping me navigate through these rough and winding roads of life. There are things that I experience in my life today that school didn’t teach me. That’s how music saves me everyday.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

My sound is gritty, groovy, and full of soul. My philosophy, “If you’re true to the music, the music will be true to you”. My creative drive comes from within. My entire life music has been my best friend, sometimes my only friend. Without music I would be a totally different woman.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

My meetings with Mr. Yasufumi Higurashi and Mr. Kochi from Japan were most important experiences. To be embraced and inspired even with such a huge language barrier was overwhelming. I’m extremely grateful for that. The greatest advice came to my surprise twice two different occasions. The first time it felt good hearing it, the second time it really stuck. That advice was, “Remember, just be Crystal Thomas”, it came from Mr. Yasufumi Higurashi.

"It takes patience and strength still to be a woman in this man’s world. I’m at the age in life to where I’m convinced that some things just will never change. No matter how long we march and how hard we fight. Females artists have to be consistent enough to always stand on our own, that’s where the power comes from. There’s so many amazing female artists out here. We are Queens, and we are taking our place on the throne." (Photo: Crystal Thomas, using her voice as a positive influence and as encouragement.)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I have so many amazing music memories, but I’ll only share a few. Playing trombone with Mr. Johnnie Taylor, singing acoustically with Mr. Lucky Peterson, Recording and sharing college stories with Mr. Chuck Rainey, singing with Mrs. Jewel Brown, playing SXSW with The Eastside Kings and every Eastside Kings Festival, performing in the biggest Blues Festival... I’m Madrid, seeing myself for the first time on a Jumbotron, and traveling from country to country with my amazing friends, The Bloodest Saxophone.

What do you miss most nowadays from the blues of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss the passion and storylines most nowadays. There’s no conviction like it was back in the day. My fear is that all of their hard work will be lost in time.

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

It takes patience and strength still to be a woman in this man’s world. I’m at the age in life to where I’m convinced that some things just will never change. No matter how long we march and how hard we fight.

Females artists have to be consistent enough to always stand on our own, that’s where the power comes from. There’s so many amazing female artists out here. We are Queens, and we are taking our place on the throne.

"Some of the most important things I’ve learned is that I have a music responsibility to not only reciprocate the feelings I received growing up listening to the greats, but I’ve got to keep the Blues alive. I’ve also learned to stay humble and always apply myself to be better, and do better." (Photo: Crystal Thomas on stage. Her songs are heartfelt, soulful arrangements that whet the appetite for more.)

What would you say characterizes Louisiana blues scene in comparison to other local US scenes and circuits?

I think the Louisiana blues scene is far behind most places. Your best blues is ducked off in little hole in the walls that most people never heard of. I actually use to co-host a blues jam with Mr. Jerry Beech who wrote “I’ll Play The Blues For You”, covered by Albert King.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Some of the most important things I’ve learned is that I have a music responsibility to not only reciprocate the feelings I received growing up listening to the greats, but I’ve got to keep the Blues alive. I’ve also learned to stay humble and always apply myself to be better, and do better.

What is the impact of Blues on the racial, civil rights, spiritual, political and socio-cultural implications?

Blues has always healed. For the African American culture, music has been the one solid constant in our lives. We naturally express ourselves in songs through music.

Whether we a pushing for freedom, or celebrating love and life, music has always had a major impact on our lives and played the major part of being able to communicate.

Crystal Thomas Music - Home

(Photo: Crystal Thomas)

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