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Sometimes it just takes a while
That’s how Thomas Oliver describes his reincarnation as a singer songwriter after a long career in journalism.
While working at Atlanta’s largest newspaper, Thomas wrote songs and performed them on the weekends. Eventually, he produced two CDs of stone-cold country – honky-tonk blues and love-sick ballads. The Georgia Music Industry Association honored five of his songs from those two CDs at its Best of Country showcases.
“Finally Over Losing My Mind” and “The Life You Save Might be Your Own” are available on iTunes and most other Internet music sites.
But all that was just a long prelude to a new life and a new sound.
Fate and faith
The long-declining newspaper industry was dealt a near fatal blow when the Great Recession of 2008 wiped out all but the strong, and even the major metro dailies were wounded. As a result, they offered buyouts.
Thomas took one as a leap of faith and talked his long-time girlfriend, who also worked at the newspaper, into taking a buyout as well. They got married and moved to a tiny island off the coast of Georgia.
On Tybee Island, Thomas became a full-time performing singer/songwriter. He brought his well-deserved reputation for a great show from Atlanta, where folks like Sean McPherson of the Smith’s Olde Bar say, “Thomas is one of my favorites to book because I know he will put on a great show that always leaves them wanting more.”
Savannah Songwriters Series
Since moving from Atlanta, Thomas has played many of the music venues on Tybee Island, from Bernie’s Oyster House and Doc’s Bar, to Huc-a-Poos and North Beach Grill, as well as Wild Wing’s in Savannah, Uncle Bubba’s on Wilmington Island and Driftaway Café in Sandfly. His shows are a blend of Americana, classic country and his originals.
Although Thomas was told that most venues, since they cater to the tourist crowd, preferred covers to originals, he felt moved to play more and more of his own songs, and the crowd’s response encouraged him even further.
His long-time fans couldn’t help but notice that Thomas’ songs were taking on more of a folk and blues mixture. Still underscored with real country melodies and stories, but now layered with what folks call Americana: a little bit of country mixed with folk and blues. He now plays solo but more often than not he is fronting his Lazaretto Creek Band comprised of some of the Low Country’s best-known musicians.
He soon became involved with the newly formed Savannah Songwriters Series, which showcases original music once a month in a writers-in-the-round format. As SSS evolved and grew, Thomas became more involved and eventually took over booking and producing the showcases.
God, Coke and UGA
Born in Atlanta, Thomas is a graduate of UGA. A career in journalism included senior writing and management positions at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the publication of the international best seller: “The Real Coke, the Real Story” (1986 Random House/ 1987 Penguin). Available as a e-book for Kindles, Nooks and Pads at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iTunes. It was optioned for a movie in 2015.
The son of a Sunday School teacher, Thomas once considered the ministry. Still his religious upbringing reveals itself in many songs, and especially in what he calls his spiritual blues, where he confronts the mystery of the misery suffered by both the just and the unjust.
Thomas is married to Melissa Turner. Between them, they have four grown children.
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