Back in the late 1990’s as I worked at a newspaper here in South Florida, I had the task of cleaning out some of the old promotional materials gathered throughout the year. As I looked through the stack of papers and promo cassettes I stumbled upon a promo package for the R&B artist Joe. At that point he was well-known by R&B music fans and listeners like myself, but not so much outside of that genre. Nevertheless, I took the cassette that was designated for the trash bin home as part of my personal music collection. Late last year, the same guy simply called Joe, released studio album number 12. If you still don’t know who I’m writing about, keep reading this post. If you have heard some of Joe’s music, keep reading this post,
Joe Thomas was born in Columbus, Georgia July 5th 1973 and was the child of evangelist preachers. He later moved to Opelika, Alabama during his formative years and graduated from Opelika High School in 1990. Joe continued to sing and write music while working at occasional temporary jobs. Finally, he traveled to New Jersey, hoping to make connections in the music industry. While working at a gospel record store and continuing his music education through a local church, he met producer Vincent Herbert and recorded a three-song demo tape. He signed to Mercury Records in 1992 and released his début album, Everything the next year.
Joe’s greater success came a little while after I came across the promotional materials. In April 2000, Joe released his third album, My Name Is Joe. Produced by Joe and several other record producers including Allen “Allstar” Gordon, Teddy Riley and Tim & Bob, it received favorable reviews from critics. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It charted internationally as well, peaking within the top 10 in Netherlands and Canada as well as appearing in Australia, France, Sweden, and the UK. My Name Is Joe contained three singles — “I Wanna Know”, “Treat Her Like a Lady”, and “Stutter” — the first and last of which appeared within the top five of the US Billboard Hot 100. The album has been certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), certified platinum by Music Canada, and certified silver by the Syndicat National de l’Édition Phonographique (SNEP).
The following year, Better Days, Joe’s fourth album was released. Significantly less successful, it reached number 32 on the Billboard 200 and number four on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It featured two singles, including “Lets Stay Home Tonight”, which reached number 18 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. A critical success, Better Days for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, while “Let’s Stay Home Tonight” was nominated for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
At this time in his career, Joe Thomas had established himself as one of the premier balladiers in the R&B genre. He presents himself as a sensitive, sensual, romantic and intelligent singer/songwriter never at a loss for words in a song. Many of those hit songs are still enjoying rotation at radio stations around the world. That means the music he creates has a sense of timelessness most artists wish for. Joe Thomas is more than just another guy named Joe. He is a musical success.
More than anything, Joe has an understanding that the music business is a business first. Throughout his twenty-five year career Joe has done nothing except produce hit music consistently. However, he still has made a couple of record company moves to continue his creative drive. After a string of successful music, Joe left Jive Records in 2008 for record label executive Kedar Massenburg’s Kedar Entertainment company. In March 2014, Joe signed a new deal with BMG Rights Management. His eleventh album, Bridges, marked his first album under his new label Plaid Takeover Entertainment after severing business ties with Massenburg.
Joe spoke about working with new business partner Gerald “Plaid” Isaac.”Working with Gerald has been a well-thought-out process and a much-needed move for me in moving forward as an artist and a businessman,” said Joe in a statement. “He is a razor in this game with unique business savvy. I am confident the teams will leave no stone unturned in helping us to continue building my model.”
At the end of 2016 Joe Thomas released album number 12, My Name is Joe Thomas. I sat down and listened to the entire album and immediately understood why Joe has continued to be musically productive for so long. In a recent interview with the The Boombox, Joe spoke about his most recent work. “Many artists at times say that their current project is their best piece of work to date, however I can honestly say that this truly is not only my best, but one of my favorite discs ever”, says Joe. “I put my heart and soul into the creation and performance of this record and I can only hope that I am giving fans what they wish for in a Joe record.”
My Name Is Joe Thomas debuted at No. 2 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 1 on the R&B Albums chart, with 17,000 copies sold the first week. The album continues to be a success both commercially as well as a fan favorite. Take some time like I did and listen to one of the best albums of music to be heard in recent times. Considering the artist Joe Thomas’ other work, this album may be around and playing for many years to come.