The debut single from performer-composer Shelley Thomas blends elements of Balkan, Arabic, Hindustani, West African, electronic, pop soul and classical styles with cinematic arrangements and emotive power to create a new genre called world chamber pop.
Vocalist, oud player and composer Shelley Thomas blends Balkan, Arabic, Hindustani, classical, pop soul and African music styles in her compositions, creating the emergence of a new genre called world chamber pop. With cinematic arrangements and inspired emotive power, she interlaces diverse threads of culture through a rhythmic and poignant examination into the human condition. Recognized for her attention to vocal detail, ornamentation, expression and pitch precision, her depth of study and sensitivity have allowed her a rare breadth of styles including folk, classical, traditional and improvisational world vocal arts. Her work pushes the boundaries of musical archetypes in a reverent, poetic and progressive aesthetic. For fifteen years, she has performed songs in over fifteen languages with disarming fluidity and authenticity, synthesizing methods absorbed from different world music which she has studied extensively. She has taught workshops, recorded, performed and toured internationally with world-class artists including Yo-Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble, The Knights, Kronos Quartet, Simon Shaheen, Hassan Hakmoun, Bassam Saba and the New York Arabic Orchestra, Bulgarian Voices Trio, Brooklyn Raga Massive, AlSarah & the Nubatones, Yael Deckelbaum, Adam Maalouf, Jebebara Unity Drum, Innov Gnawa, Mayssa Karaa, and The Brooklyn Youth Chorus. She has performed at venues and festivals such as the Moscow Conservatory, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pioneer Works, National Sawdust, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Vancouver Island Music Festival and Abu Dhabi Festival at Emirates Palace. Highlights include a feature on Yo-Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble’s Grammy Winning album, Sing Me Home, with vocal ensemble Black Sea Hotel (Best World Music Album – 2017); Sweden and East Coast tours; interview on MJ Dorian’s Creative Codex podcast and soundscape vocals for Panorama Festival’s 360 Ark Dome. Performances include the Mediterranean Jazz Fest, Rockwood Music Hall, Brooklyn Maqam Hang, Toronto’s Drom Taberna and Small World Music Center, The Sonic Jungle, Ecstatic Dance NYC, Alex Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, Artery, Ragas Live Festival, Lund Choral Festival, Stockholm’s Stallet, Santa Fe’s San Miguel Mission, BRIC, Le Poisson Rouge, Jalopy, SoFar Sounds, Alwan for the Arts, Yale Repertory Theater, Havana World Music Festival, Mexico’s Cumbre Tajin Festival, Rural Route Film Festival, Prototype Festival, Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, and Fete de la Musique Beirut. Shelley released her debut acappella album of Bulgarian songs, Joy, in 2016.
A graduate of California Institute of the Arts (2008 – B.F.A. World Music Performance), she taught with the Canada’s Folk Camp, One World Brooklyn Kids Chorus, MUSE Academy, Music to Your Home, and Gowanus Music Club in addition to private coaching. She attended artist residencies at Canada’s BANFF Centre in the Persian & Eastern Traditions Program and Vermont’s Avaloch Farm Music Institute. She was a recipient of the Alliance for California Traditional Arts’ Traditional Arts Development Grant. Current projects include the January 2020 release of her first single and video, Cancer Moon, for a ten-piece microtonal orchestral ensemble, preparation for recording her full album Mirror, collaborations with BAE Collective and electronic producer, Husks. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
“As exhilarating to listen to as it is a towering display of vocal prowess. Thomas has such vast range, formidable technique and minutely nuanced command of microtones that she can do it all. The result is rapture that sometimes borders on terror.” – New York Music Daily