Oya Thomas has spent her life delighting in the freeing, connective force of music. The beginning of her musical and spiritual journey can be traced back to Oya’s earliest experiences – joyful impressions that have added a genuine playfulness to her work’s mantra even as she matures as an artist. At the age of three, deeply inspired and encouraged by her father and personal hero Ezekiel and his distinctive voice, she began to sing tirelessly, writing poems and stories on the spot and setting them to music. Her ability to express herself fluidly through song strengthened the bond between the members of her tight-knit family as they gathered around the piano to revel in her enduring enthusiasm and colorful world perspectives.
Because the church was always a pivotal force in her family’s life, she began to avidly share her gifts with her congregation all the while organically building a diverse musical foundation at home through the songs of beloved musical icons such as Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson and Frank Sinatra. Her introduction to the early records of Whitney Houston fortified her commitment to becoming a mistress of her craft while drawing her closer to her own cultural and musical legacy. And the vibrant energy and skill of progressive artists like Prince helped cultivate her deep appreciation of a solid groove and increased her hunger for improvisation, which continues to drive her to explore every possible dimension of the instrument of voice. Oya’s vivacity still shines bright as she devours both fresh and familiar material with equal passion.
As Oya built her foundation through song, she developed a profound fascination for human psychology and the relationship between the body, mind and spirit, which characterizes the core principles of both her mentoring and her musical repertoire. Her on-going quest to make her life and work a continuous opportunity for learning and growth drove her to earn a B.A. in Psychology at LMU Loyola Marymount University and an M.A. in Spiritual Psychology at the University of Santa Monica, the country’s leading institution in this discipline. Her deep-seated need to explore the transformative power music has on the human mind and soul still flows in abundance through her
songwriting, performance style and her central message: “Energizing through Music and Art.”
Oya reaches the highest level of fulfillment as a singer, actress, life coach and mentor by watching the way her voice can move and shape the world around her and leading others to find their own sublime bliss and emotional freedom in music. By combining her extensive spiritual and therapeutic training and her extremely multi-faceted artistic background, she has found an apt vehicle for her talents and is able to spread her light and love through one-on-one coaching as well as through her music and her commanding stage presence. Teresa Williams, organizer of Highland Community College’s annual Black History month celebration, who has invited Oya back to sing multiple times at the event summed up Oya’s multi-disciplinary approach perfectly: “The beauty of Oya is she is about education and community service and she wraps all of it into entertainment.”
Throughout HER career, she has performed, recorded and worked with a variety of talented musicians and artists, including Heavy D., Snoop Dogg, Sharee Brown, Patrice Rushen, Howard Hewett and Preston Glass as well as actors Robin Givens and Gabriel Casseus. Oya’s credits include writer and producer of the music featured in the promotional campaign for the film Joyful Noise, starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah and actress in season one and the upcoming season two of the series The Therapist. Renowned for her compelling performances in critically-acclaimed gospel plays nationwide, she has also regularly performed for organizations such as the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of America and the American Cancer Society.
In Oya’s words, “To feel is such a great experience in and of itself, and to be able to do it with something I have inside me, from the depth of my spirit is like a wonderful sharing that I cannot put into words. A smile, applause singing along, someone saying how good I made them feel makes everything worthwhile. These experiences are
gratifying to me as an artist and performer and because I know I am helping someone else connect to their emotions in a positive way. I always said I wanted to use my talents to see God’s great earth, and so I am.”
With deep, immovable roots nourished by her father’s love and support as well as an innate fervor for growth as an artist and a human being, Oya continues to ignite her exceptional spark through her art.
Spirit of Oya is her debut solo album.