Joseph “Joe” Lewis Thomas

Thesis Statement

Joe is a skilled performer of smooth and sensuous R&B productions with sporadic hip-hop beats, and his broad gospel music experience has allowed him to produce his albums in addition to singing on them. Early gospel artists like the Winans, Commissioned, and Vanessa Bell Armstrong influenced Joe, who later developed a liking for soul music greats Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye as well as modern artists Bobby Brown and Keith Sweat. Joe had made a big impact with the use of gospel and R&B in the 90’s and 2000’s. 


Early Life & Childhood

Joe Thomas was born in Columbus, Georgia, on July 5, 1973. He was one of five children, and because both of his parents were evangelical ministers, he grew up surrounded by gospel music. When Joe was two years old, his family relocated to Alabama. Joe grew up as a devout Christian who participated in the choir, played the guitar, and finally oversaw the choir. He began participating in neighborhood bands in the late 1980s. In 1990, he received his diploma from Opelika High School in Opelika, Alabama.

Joe's Career in the 1990's

After Opelika High School, Joe continued to make music and perform while occasionally working at transitory jobs. He met producer Vincent Herbert in New Jersey while working at a gospel record shop and furthering his musical training at a nearby church, where they also recorded a three-song demo tape. He signed with PolyGram Records in 1992, and the following year, Everything, his debut album, was published. Joe, Keith Mille, J. Dibbs, and Dave “Jam” Hall worked together to produce the album, which peaked at number 105 on the US Billboard 200 and number 16 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Three singles from Everything were released, two of which reached the top ten on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart: “I’m in Luv” and “The One for Me.”

Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, a crime comedy parody movie, featured Joe’s song “All the Things (Your Man Won’t Do)” on its soundtrack in 1996. (1996). After being released as a single, it peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100. After signing with Jive Records, it later appeared as the opening track of his second studio album All That I Am (1997). The album, which served as his commercial breakthrough, peaked at number four on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and position 13 on the US Billboard 200. The album’s “Don’t Wanna Be a Player,” another big single, was also included on the Booty Call soundtrack. All That I Am ultimately achieved platinum status in the US. 

Joe, a producer and songwriter, started working with other artists frequently in the middle of the 1990s. He remixed the Tina Turner and Barry White duet “In Your Wildest Dreams,” as well as her 1996 album Wildest Dreams single “Something Beautiful Remains.” He also composed and produced tracks for R&B groups Ideal, Xscape, and Hi-Five. Joe also contributed vocals to the Knobody-produced remix of Big Punisher’s “Still Not a Player” that substituted his own song “Don’t Wanna Be a Player” for it, as well as to Brandy’s “Angel in Disguise” from her second album, Never Say Never (1998). He was requested to contribute to Mariah Carey’s 1999 album Rainbow song “Thank God I Found You” by the artist (1999). It was made available as the second single from the album and went on to become Joe’s first US Billboard Hot 100 number-one song. The Recording Industry Association of America later awarded it Gold certification (RIAA). 

Turning up in the 2000's

My Name Is Joe, Joe’s third album, was released in April 2000. It was produced by Joe and a number of other musicians, including Teddy Riley, Tim & Bob, and Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs. It garnered positive reviews from reviewers and reached at number two on the Billboard 200 while dominating the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It reached its peak on overseas charts as well, landing in the top 10 in Canada and the Netherlands. Three songs from My Name Is Joe were released, with “I Wanna Know,” “Treat Her Like a Lady,” and “Stutter” reaching the top five on the US Billboard Hot 100. My Name Is Joe, his best-selling album, received platinum and silver certifications from Music Canada, and the British Phonographic Industry in addition to being triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) . The album and “I Wanna Know” were nominated for Grammy Awards in 2001 in the categories of Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

Better Days, Joe’s fourth album, was released the following year. It was considerably less successful, peaking at number four on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and earning gold status in the US while only ranking 32 on the Billboard 200. Two singles from the album were released: “What If a Woman,” which topped the Adult R&B Songs chart, and “Let’s Stay Home Tonight,” which peaked at number 18 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Better Days, a critically acclaimed album, became his second to be nominated for a Grammy in the Best R&B Album category, while “Let’s Stay Home Tonight” received a nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Joe and Mariah Carey collaborated once more in 2002 on the remix of “Through the Rain,” the lead single from her album Charmbracelet (2002). 

For his fifth studio album, Joe enlisted a wide range of well-known musicians, including Carvin & Ivan, Dre & Vidal, R. Kelly, and The Underdogs. And Then…, a late 2003 release, peaked at number 26 on the US Billboard 200. While the lead song, “More & More,” written by Kelly, reached the top 20 in R&B in the US, it was released overseas on a double A-side with “Ride Wit U,” a joint effort with the rap group G-Unit. A moderate hit, the song peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles Chart and became one of his biggest singles there in July 2004. It also cracked the top 40 in Australia and peaked there. A consistent seller who eventually received gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Produced by Stargate, Tank, Cool & Dre, Bryan-Michael Cox, and Sean Garrett, Joe’s sixth album Ain’t Nothin’ Like Me, which was released in April 2007, had cameos by the rappers Nas, Fabolous, Papoose, Young Buck, and Tony Yayo. His highest charting album since My Name Is Joe, it garnered generally favorable reviews from music critics and debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 and at the top of the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. It sold roughly 98,000 copies in its first week. The follow-up single, “If I Was Your Man,” peaked at number three on Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs list while the lead single, “Where You At,” only charted in the United Kingdom. Joe released his final album via Jive Records with Ain’t Nothin’ Like Me after a disagreement with the label over accusations that he was unhappy with how his music was being promoted. Also in 2007, Joe gave a Pepsi Smash-only performance of Carrie Underwood’s smash song “Before He Cheats” on Yahoo! Music.

2008 and the present of Joe

In September 2008, Joe Thomas independently released his seventh album, Joe Thomas, New Man, through record label executive Kedar Massenburg’s Kedar Entertainment firm. Bryan-Michael Cox, Stereotypes, and D’Mile among others oversaw the album’s production. It sold 56,733 copies in its first week after release, debuting at number eight on the US Billboard 200. Only one track from the album’s first single, “E.R. (Emergency Room),” made it into the top forty of Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs list. His second album with Kedar, Signature, was released ten months after that. It debuted at number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and at number seven on the Billboard 200 with an album of ballads written, produced, and orchestrated by Joe. In the same year, Joe published the holiday EP Make Sure You’re Home for Christmas, which was distributed solely by Target and included two original songs and four renditions of traditional Christmas tunes. The single EP was developed into a full-length album called Home Is the Essence of Christmas, which was released the following year and reached the top twenty on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list.

Joe and label partner Keith Sweat worked together to write the song “Test Drive” in 2010 for Sweat’s album Ridin’ Solo. His tenth studio album, The Good, the Bad, and the Sexy, was also released in 2010. The majority of the record, which debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop albums chart, was produced by the singer in collaboration with Brandon “B.A.M.” Alexander, Gragston, The Ambassadorz, and Gerald Isaac. After a brief break, Joe returned in July 2013 with his tenth studio album Doubleback: Evolution of R&B, which marked his debut release under Massenburg’s newly established firm Massenburg Media following the closure of his Kedar Entertainment.With 31,500 copies sold in its first week, it debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 and at the top of the R&B/Hip Hop chart. The singer collaborated with a small group of artists on the album, including San Francisco producer D.O.A., who provided “I’d Rather Have a Love” and the duet “Love & Sex,” which also features vocalist Fantasia. The CD also features Too Short, a rapper.

Joe and BMG Rights Management agreed to a distribution agreement in March 2014. After dissolving economic relations with Massenburg, he released his eleventh album, Bridges, under Gerald Isaac’s Plaid Takeover Entertainment label for the first time. It debuted and peaked at number 17 on the Billboard 200 after a decade of continuous top ten entries, with first-week sales of 15,126 copies in the US. “Love & Sex, Pt. 2,” a duet with singer Kelly Rowland, served as the album’s first single and the follow-up to his 2013 partnership with singer Fantasia. On the Adult R&B Songs list, it rose to the top five hits. On November 11, 2016, Joe’s 12th album, My Name Is Joe Thomas, which pays homage to his third album My Name Is Joe (2000), was made available. With 17,000 albums sold in the first week, the album debuted at number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums list. It produced the single “So I Can Have You Back,” which became his fourth number-one hit on the Adult R&B Songs chart. From February to March 2017, Joe and Ashanti co-headlined a European concert tour in support of the record. Joe produced a cover of Adele’s critically acclaimed song Hello in November 2015, and it was made available for purchase.


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