At a time when so many desperately strive to seem cooler than they really are, southern soul singer and songwriter Levar Thomas has opted for the road less traveled. His heart-on-your sleeve r&b is all about purity and earnestness, two qualities increasingly hard to come by in today's hipster marketplace.
Born to a race car driver father and a cashier mother, Thomas sports a warm tenor voice that is clearly the result of years spent in gospel choirs, wedding bands and open mike night lineups. Beyond technical chops, his warm-hearted spirit shines through in his singing. In 2007, Thomas decided to take that plaintive approach to making music public, when he began to self-produce a series of videos in his Atlanta bedroom. "I would find instrumentals of songs that I liked by some of my favorite artists - Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and Journey," Thomas says. "Then I would just set up my videocamera in my bedroom and start singing." Eager to share his work, Thomas began to post his videos online. He also wrote and produced his own original songs and posted those videos as well.
The strategy worked. In no time, Thomas became a featured main page artist on YouTube.com where he racked up nearly 250,000 hits. He currently generates several hundred plays a day on MySpace, and he's been a featured artist on Imeem.com, which attracts over 24 million unique viewers a month. In November 2007, he became the first ever winner (in the singers category) of Clipstar.com, a global talent contest that is the Internet equivalent of American Idol. He's also managed to secure worldwide ringtone deals, all through his self-made online success. "I never looked at myself as the R&B version of Soulja Boy or anything like that…Posting my music online just seemed like another way to get my music out to the world. I'm so grateful that people have really responded in such a big way."
Levar Thomas is currently preparing his first professional EP release, a mix of smooth uptempo tracks for the clubs and heartfelt slow jams for the bedrooms. The buzz he's generated has been enough to secure him top-flight management in New York and he has plenty of other opportunities coming his way. "I don't know where the road will lead, but I'd love to become a household name."
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