“Mississippi Blues Diva” JJ Thames is a force of nature on stage, bending her magnificent, bluesy voice to a mix of R&B, funk, Motown, ska, reggae and soul.
Detroit native Thames studied piano and classical and jazz voice as a teenager, until she had her first child and headed to Mississippi to attend college. Upon losing her second child to a rare form of lymphoma, Thames returned to Detroit and singing—which she describes as “the only thing that lifted her out of her despair.” After Thames won over fans as a headliner at Lola’s nightclub, she moved on to NYC, busking in subway tunnels, working multiple jobs, giving birth to a third son and eventually living with her children in a homeless shelter.
A move back to Mississippi in 2012 triggered her rebirth, as the soulful singer signed with Dechamp Records and produced her debut album. The title track on Tell You What I Know—released to critical acclaim in 2014—hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Singles chart.