JJ Thames hasn’t had the easiest life. Yet despite enduring a host of hardships, including homelessness, depression and the loss of a child, Thames is doing what she’s always wanted to do … what she believes she is meant to do. She is performing her heart and soul out on a worldwide scale. This Sunday, Thames finishes up a six-month tour right here at the Lizzie Rose Music Room in Tuckerton.
“No matter what comes against you, you’ve to go for it with all you’ve got. I’ve gotta make it happen,” Thames says.
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Thames may sing the blues, but she’s just as much a “motivational speaker” as she is a rich, raw and versatile singer when she’s on stage. It’s a testament to a life well lived despite hardship.
“Our show is almost like a church service,” Thames says. “It’s positivity, light and love … I’m using my platform to be a voice for people, to impart something positive. Music has the ability to transform people’s lives.”
Thames doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks the walk. “Tell You What I Know,” Thames’ first album, was released in spring 2014. It includes the titular song that Thames penned while living in a homeless shelter.
“I’ve been the person eating Ramen Noodles,” Thames says. “I feel the crowd … I just want to make it better.”
And with her band The Violet Revolt, Thames tries to do just that.
“We’ve got a lot of energy and have a lot of fun,” Thames says of her band. “We genuinely like each other, and you can see that on stage.”
At the end of the tour, Thames and The Violet Revolt plan to spend all of December in the studio, recording Thames’ third album.
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Thames, who has performed with artists such as Bobby Blue Bland, Peggy Scott Adams, Willie Clayton and Denise LaSalle, has experience beyond the blues. Classically trained as a child, with jazz experience, Thames expanded her repertoire by touring with reggae and rock legends like Fishbone, Israel Vibrations and Bad Brains.
But it’s blues where she shines the brightest, where her blend of storytelling and soulful singing make for an unforgettable show.
“Bring your dancing shoes because we’re gonna dance, we’re gonna party,” Thames says, adding, “But what’s most important to us is that we leave you better than what you felt when you came in. You’re going to lay your burden down.”
Spoken like a true blues artist.