Kamylle Edwards // REVOLT
The beginning of Carl Thomas' story plays out like one you'd see on film. After spending his early years as a singer performing around his hometown of Chicago in church, as a member of failed groups, and at other local venues, he set his sights on the Big Apple. Relocating to Brooklyn, New York in the early '90s, Thomas became a regular at open-mic nights around the city, playing clubs and showcases in an effort to build a name for himself. It was at one of these gigs in 1997 that he was spotted by Puff Daddy and The Notorious B.I.G. Thomas was signed to Bad Boy that same year.
Though he originally provided back-up vocals to hip-hop acts including the Notorious B.I.G. and the Lox, Thomas proved himself as a solo star with his 2000 debut album, Emotional.
This was the album that gave us "I Wish," which spent six weeks at No.1 on Billboard's R&B chart; that spawned the Stevie Wonder-sampling "Summer Rain"; that provided us the titular track, co-penned by fellow Bad Boy artist Mario Winans. With that trifecta of singles, the album shot to No.2 and went platinum with 1.7 million sold, affirming that the year, in the R&B arena, belonged to Thomas. He closed out his winning streak appearing alongside roster roommate Faith Evans on "Can't Believe," nabbing his first Grammy nomination (for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal) in the process.
Thomas' fate met misfortune, however, when in 2004 his brother was killed in a drive-by shooting on Halloween night. The tragedy shook Thomas, contributing to the lack of promotion surrounding his promising sophomore effort, Let's Talk About It, released just months earlier. The singer decided not to tour in support of the LP and, ultimately, took a sabbatical from music entirely.
But let the fact that the album still managed to reach No. 2 on the R&B Charts be an attest to Thomas’ ability to pen, personify, and perform the kind of R&B that hit hearts and bopped heads.
One B.I.G. Moment: C.T. literally had a B.I.G. moment when he made his debut on Bad Boy by singing the chorus on the Notorious One's "The World Is Filled..." adding a preacher-like sheen on the tale of two sides of the same coin.