Expression of Joy


Brent Thompson channels his inner theater kid as he connects to jazz

Jazz has always been a love of mine. Growing up in church, the music has always been inspired by the genre, and I find myself deeply connected to the rhythms and composition. So when the opportunity arose to speak with Brent Thompson about his life as a local jazz vocalist, I welcomed it with open arms.

“In my heart, I’ve really never known anything other than being made of music,” he tells me. He grew up in southeastern Tennessee, singing in the Chattanooga Boys Choir. “I was a boy soprano, singing all the high notes.” 

While today this University of Tennessee grad and marketing professional can identify as lyricist, composer, singer, and instrumentalist, his entry into the artist’s world began originally in theater. 

“Music and theater was really what made sense because that’s what my parents did,” he says. “Theater life was quite a wonderful upbringing.” Brent’s entire family participated in theater when he was young, and this sort of upbringing carved a path for how he would approach music later in life. 

“I gained a really great appreciation for performing,” he says. “It is a wonderful expression of being joyful and artistic.”

Brent’s late parents were both vocalists—his mom a powerful soprano and his dad an operatic baritone. They inspired him to become an artist. “They were music and performance in the arts and theater to me,” he says. But it took Brent a while to find his own voice; he admired so many different artists across genres. 

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized I’m a product of everything that I‘ve ever heard, everything that’s ever moved me.” As he belts out each song, he channels the theater kid of his youth, finds the character of his song, and puts it all into his music, producing an authentic performance style that you can’t help but feel connected to.

Brent can be found across town sharing his jazz sound with Knoxville each week, be that at his monthly jaunts at places like Water into Wine or in special shows with fellow jazz artists like Jason Day. Later this year, he will finish and release his next album of original jazz music. 

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