Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 42: Lucy Thomas

Let me pose a question to you all. Under what criteria or definition does an artist become influential (or even popular for that matter)? Is it their number of sales in any given year, or how high a certain song charts on the radio, or even how well people respond to songs in their own personal settings as the years progress? Is it how many awards they’ve won, or how much a song ‘blows up’ on social media? Is it their ability to have their music placed in TV shows and movies, or their songs become theme songs for various ceremonies across the years? Or is it their vocal prowess alone, and their ability to sing high, sing powerfully, sing with heart and determination? Or it could just be their natural talent as a songwriter, or even the fact that they are a multi-instrumentalist. Whatever the case may be, and whatever yardstick or measurement people use to determine someone’s popularity or influence in society altogether, there is something that still remains to be true, regardless of criteria. That a good artist is a good artist is a good artist, and no matter if they are ‘liked’ or not, one can generally appreciate someone’s craft, and people are usually on the money in their deciphering about who is popular and who is influential. Because at the end of the day, influence goes beyond popularity, and speaks to the heart of issues relevant to the people of today. People can all of a sudden, become famous overnight and popular through TikTok, Instagram and Youtube- anyone who’s somewhat tech-savvy can self-declare that they are a muso/artist, and record something on the fly…but that doesn’t mean that they actually are. They may be popular and enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame (figuratively or even literally), but to be influential means an artist has to deliver something that goes beyond the surface, and hit a listener in a way that their music impacts them not only for a little while, but really challenges the way that the person on the other end- listeners, critics, consumers, and the rest of them, sees society, music, and the interweaving of how music can impact someone’s life for the better, even if it’s just this one song that really changes the trajectory of someone’s life.

I’ve been blessed to explore a variety of artists across this 2 year period (so far)- artists like Cimorelli, Coldplay, Jackie Evancho, Switchfoot, Sugarland, Missy Higgins, Little Big Town, Alanis Morissette, Carly Rae Jepsen, John Farnham, Goo Goo Dolls, John Mayer, Hanson, Alicia Keys, Pentatonix, Lady A, Backstreet Boys and Rascal Flatts, have all challenged my own concept of music, in good ways across the board, as I’ve been enriched by the different musical genres and artists I’ve been bold enough to explore, as I’m reminded that the bubble of music that I grew up on (CCM, which is still listen to on the regular, from time to time), is just one of many different music styles that God can use to bring people closer to each other, and closer to Himself in the whole process of musical exploration. Throughout my time unlearning a lot of things and preconceived ideas about what I thought mainstream music was, I was amazed about how enjoyable music as a whole, really is- with so many musical genres at the ready, there’s literally something for anyone who has different musical tastes. There’s the pure pop/radio enthusiasts who appreciate and love pop for all that it is (artists like Delta Goodrem, Ronan Keating, Ed Sheeran, OneRepublic, Guy Sebastian, Tina Arena, Amy Grant, Colbie Caillat, One Direction and Jason Mraz), and then there’s the people that love rock in all it’s anthems (artists like Switchfoot, Skillet, Lifehouse, Train, U2, Evanescence, Daughtry, Bryan Adams, Hoobastank, Creed and Nickelback). There’s the people that adore country music in all it’s uniqueness and glory (artists like Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw), and then you have artists that don’t necessarily fit anywhere into a proverbial ‘box’, that seemingly create music that blurs different musical genre lines- artists like Owl City (pop/electronica), Josh Groban (pop/opera), Jackie Evancho (classical/pop/opera), The Corrs (folk/Irish music), Mandy Moore (bubblegum pop/folk/alternative), John Mayer (singer-songwriter/folk), SEAL (soul/adult contemporary/pop), Adele (soaring big ballads/piano pop) and Cimorelli (covers/pop/worship), that are all here on this blog-post list that I’ve been writing about for quite some time now.

And so, as I’ve been exploring artists that have a wide array of music genres, I’ve been noticing this one thing- that it is ok for an artist to be impactful and influential to a certain group of people, even if they themselves haven’t really written much of their material themselves. Call them ‘cover artists’ if you will, but there seems to be a breed of them that are punching above their weight, delivering songs, either as broadway music, showtunes, pop covers or even being prevalent and relevant on Youtube, that pierce to the heart of ourselves, as we realise that it is in these artists where they focus much more on their vocal delivery, and remind us of the fact that someone can still shine with a song and make it their own, even if they didn’t actually write the song in the first place. Artists like Jackie Evancho, Cimorelli, even acapella Youtube star Peter Hollens, have all excelled in one shape or another, in delivering great pop covers, and all have had varying degrees of success and influence throughout the sphere of youtube and beyond. It is in these three artists, where I’ve realised that it’s ok for there to be cover music, and good cover music too. An artist may not necessarily write a single word, and still be as impactful as the next guy, and as I’ve come to know, there maybe is a need for cover music, broadway songs, showtunes and songs from soundtracks, in this ever-changing landscape of music. And as I’m about to embark on this musical journey of mine for this week, let me just say that this up-and-coming vocal genius (and quite possibly a tremendous success on Broadway, if they do decide to go that route) is well on their way to stardom, popularity, and dare I say it- influence. This young British star (semi finalist on The Voice Kids in 2018), Lucy Thomas, is most certainly going places, and an artist to check and be on the lookout for, in the upcoming years ahead. I don’t really take any spot on this blog-post list lightly, or for granted, and believe me when I say, that Lucy’s inclusion in the ‘Influential Artists of the Next 5 – 10 Years’ is most certainly warranted.

Though only 17 at the moment, she’s been able to tackle some of music’s most complicated songs, vocally, and make them her own, as her music continues to amaze people, and hopefully allow listeners to rekindle their own love for broadway music, soundtracks, and showtunes, even music of the past, that would otherwise have been swept under the rug, in favour of the pop music landscape at the moment. Lucy’s music is a step above, and maybe, just maybe, she can follow in the footsteps of Jackie Evancho and her music, as the years continue to roll by? Lucy’s music has given me a new perspective on big-ballad songs that have impacted music and society during the 1990s and 2000s, and while someone else could warrant and validate their point of not including Lucy in any list (and that’s the beauty of any list, anywhere, on anything, it’s not gospel!), what I’ve come to know is that cover artists can still have their place, in music, society, and have an impact on people who they themselves want to get a start in the business, through the way of Youtube. Lucy’s talent at such a young age is indeed off the charts- maybe talent shows actually do work? With songs from soundtracks, broadway musicals, and big-soaring ballads of yesteryear, making up most of Lucy’s musical repertoire thus far; Lucy’s crisp sound and vocally-steady voice beyond her years, makes her one of the most uniquely gifted and compelling cover artists I’ve heard in a long, long time (ever since artists like Peter Hollens and Cimorelli!).

I discovered Lucy Thomas’s music by accident. There, I said it. I wasn’t looking for another broadway/young artist to listen to, no, I was just listening to Jackie Evancho and writing about her in my blog post, around a few months ago. And then one day on my Youtube home page, this little song appeared- ‘There You’ll Be’. I shrugged my shoulders, thought ‘why not? What’s the worst that could happen?’, then clicked on the music video, then…I guess the rest was history then, right? Lucy was eliminated from The Voice Kids U.K. in 2018 in the Semi-Finals…and that’s pretty much all the info you can find of her online, other than her website, that is. Nothing else, which makes this ‘blog post’ hard, right? Well, not really, because sometimes when you have not much information about someone you know needs to be heard by people, then  you know that people are definitely sleeping on them, and their music, however ‘unknown’ it is to people right now, can certainly ‘wow’ them in the future, if people only heard. Lucy’s music is the same- since hearing Lucy tackle a Faith Hill cover a few months back, I’ve been on a journey through listening to both of Lucy’s albums (Premiere in 2019, Encore in 2020), and the several single-covers she has done since, and let me just say, that Lucy’s vocals may be one of the most uniquely powerful and heartfelt I’ve heard, in a broadway sense…maybe even better vocally than Jackie Evancho herself. There, I know that’s a bold statement. But anyone who has heard Lucy’s music at least once, can tell that her musical prowess is something to be celebrated and encouraged, in a way that reminds us all that people that often come along that have freakishly good vocals…they exist, and Lucy Thomas is one of them!

There’s nothing much to say about Lucy and her music, only that an acknowledgement of her musical ability needs to be heard to be even believed, and understood, that this up-and-coming semi-finalist of The Voice Kids U.K., needs to be nurtured, respected, valued, and moved straight away into any starring role in any musical of her choice…fast. And I mean fast, because talent like hers doesn’t necessarily come around every day, and once an artist comes that challenges your very notion of how broadway music sounds like, then you know that they are ready to begin in their own preferred realm of music. Lucy’s at that stage now- at 17, she’s tackled some of music’s most challenging works in years. Since bowing out in the semi finals of The Voice: UK (Season 2), Lucy’s wasted no time in presenting her debut album Premiere, that was unveiled February 1st, 2019. With high profile songs being flawlessly delivered by Lucy on Premiere, from ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Tightrope’ (The Greatest Showman), ‘Let It Go’ (Frozen), ‘Listen’ (Beyonce, from the soundtrack to the 2006 movie Dreamgirls), ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (Beauty and the Beast), and ‘Can I Have This Dance’ (a duet with fellow The Voice Kids UK finalist Will Callan, from the Disney musical film High School Musical 3), to ‘Defying Gravity’ (the signature song from the musical Wicked) and ‘Someone Like You’ (from the musical Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde); Premiere showcases the best of what the broadway/musical world has to offer- and in each and every track, Lucy’s vocals are as much compelling and poignant, as they are enthusiastic and passionate. Lucy also presents 4 originally written songs- never sung or recorded anywhere else.

‘Starlight’, ‘Suddenly’, ‘One Day’ and ‘The Day That I Met You’ sound so familiar, as if they were from some musical in years gone by, but as I did a bit of digging, these four songs are brand new, and yet when I heard them, I felt like I heard these songs for ages and ages. That’s how eloquently sung, uniquely written, and powerfully crafted, these songs have been, full stop. All these four songs are from the upcoming musical Rosie, to be premiering on stage in 2022, and yet I felt these songs, upon hearing them for the first time around a month or so ago, were songs I heard before- maybe the familiarity that comes from hearing these songs, even for the first time, is because of the fact that I’m becoming more accustomed to musicals and songs in musicals, in general…I dunno why. Whatever the case, songs like ‘Starlight’ and ‘Suddenly’ are slowly becoming some of my favourite songs Lucy has recorded, ever- not just because they were originally written, but just because they’re good. As the logline for the musical Rosie reads ‘…“Rosie” is a new musical based on the inspirational true story of Miss Rosie Boote who was brought up in a remote Irish convent before following her dream of living an exciting and adventurous life in Edwardian London’s West End…’, we start to wonder- since Lucy is singing some of the songs that are to be present on Rosie, here on Premiere, would she get a first starring role as Miss Rosie Boote in 2022? Regardless, Lucy’s take on these yet-to-be-classics (because frankly, any musical that has debuted, always has some songs from each of them, that have become classics over the years!) are just spectacular, and further proves her passion and enthusiasm to her musical craft, something that is very much rare in the youth of today. Maybe in hindsight, Lucy should’ve gone all the way to The Voice Kids U.K. final in Season 2?

Around a year later from the release date of February 1st 2019, for Premiere, Lucy’s second album Encore released in April 24th 2020. Comprising of more ballads and anthems from the 1990s, 2000s and musical films, we see much more familiarity with Encore, and are much more able to sing along to songs from this album as opposed to the freshness of Premiere– nothing wrong with Premiere– in fact, I do prefer Lucy’s first album to her second, primarily because of the fact that it was the first album I did check out after hearing ‘There You’ll Be’, but Encore in terms of it being much more familiar to people in general, is much more so. Starting off with a cover of the Mariah Carey song ‘Hero’, we understand that anyone covering ‘Hero’, in any circumstance by any artist other than Mariah herself, can be very difficult. And yet Lucy pulls it off with such grace and ease. And at only 16 at the time of release, ‘Hero’ reminds us all of just the ability of Lucy, and anyone who tries to tell someone that they can’t do it (fill in the blank about what ‘it’ is), well…just look at Lucy Thomas, and I’m sure, we can all gain the confidence and determination we need to succeed, right? And ‘Hero’ isn’t the only song that Lucy powerfully records with poignancy and heart. Songs like ‘Run’ (originally by Snow Patrol, the cover Lucy is presenting on  here, closely follows and resembles the cover Leona Lewis recorded on her own debut album), ‘Desperado’ (The Eagles), ‘Reflection’ (by Christina Aguilera, and from the 1998 movie Mulan, and subsequently, the 2020 movie of Mulan as well), and ‘A Million Dreams’ (from the musical film The Greatest Showman), alongside covers of both ‘Memory’ and ‘Beautiful Ghosts’ (both songs from the musical Cats, ‘Beautiful Ghosts’ is actually a new song created for the movie adaption of it, and is sung by Taylor Swift), ‘My Heart Will Go On’ (Celine Dion…arguably her most recognisable song, ever!), ‘I’ll Never Love Again’ (an underrated song from the musical film A Star is Born, and sung by the ever-talented Lady Gaga), and the ever-familiar ‘I Have Nothing’ (sung originally by the late great Whitney Houston, for the 1992 musical movie The Bodyguard), are all present here on Encore. And then you wonder…’Yes, I have heard ‘Hero’, and I know that Lucy can pull that song off…but every other song on Encore? Is it true that Lucy can sing her heart out and deliver near-flawless covers of these already great tracks?’ The answer is yes, to all of them. Let me just say this about Lucy- all the hype she has been getting (just click on any youtube video from hers, and look at the comments, and you’ll see what I mean), is definitely warranted and deserving. Considering her age, and her vocal ability, she’s definitely living up to the expectations people I’m sure have placed upon her, when looking at the track listing of Encore, and wondering if Lucy can do these songs justice or not. And do them justice, she did. While for me, Lucy’s debut will always be a special one to me (because apart from ‘There You’ll Be’, Premiere is the first time I was introduced to this underrated artist), Encore is just as powerful and good, and with song covers like ‘My Heart Will Go On’, ‘I Have Nothing’ and ‘A Million Dreams’; then surely, Lucy’s voice ought to be one for the history books, right?

With both Premiere and Encore under her belt, Lucy’s career direction from here is only upward. And if this blog would just end there, with both Premiere and Encore only, then she’d still be warranted (in my opinion) of being included in this blog-post list. But where it stands right now, we see that Premiere and Encore are not the end of the story. There are still more songs to consider the powerfulness of Lucy’s voice- singles released separately to the 2 albums, as well as video only tracks. ‘Angel’ (or in case of Lucy’s cover, it’s called ‘In the Arms of An Angel’), was originally written and recorded by Canadian Sarah McLachlan, and is about a persona, who is a drug addict, and the struggles that they face in the world- the ‘angel’ in the song is actually symbolic of the drugs this persona gives into. And thus, knowing the story behind said song, the song takes on a whole new meaning, and even though Lucy Thomas, and her younger sister Martha, do an excellent job in delivering this song to perfection, I can’t help but wonder…do these sisters really know the true meaning behind this song, one of the standout melodies of the 1990s? Lucy released her cover version of the famous Leonard Cohen track ‘Hallelujah’ in December 2020, and in just over six months, the video of the famous song has received around 8 and a half million views…must be doing something right! Lucy’s rendition is stellar and absolutely flawless, in fact, this version of ‘Hallelujah’ is perhaps one of my favourite covers of the song, ever…possibly only rivalling the cover by Pentatonix. That’s how passionate, heartfelt and emotional Lucy’s cover of ‘Hallelujah’ is- in fact, for anyone who wants to check out Lucy and her music; and wants to hear her voice and see how she sounds like, then a perfect starting point would be this cover- everyone knows ‘Hallelujah’ (or at least I think they do), and we can all see the enthusiasm on her face as she’s singing.

‘She Used To Be Mine’, one of the most emotive and heartfelt songs, written and sung by singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles for the Waitress musical, is given the Lucy Thomas treatment, as a video-only track unveiled to us way back in 2018, just a few months after she bowed out of The Voice Kids UK (Season 2). Why this song is not released as a single (or even attached to Premiere or even Encore), I don’t know. Regardless, Lucy’s rendition of this already emotive track is everything we can ask for in a cover- yes, she’s even rivalling other artists who have covered this song before- namely artists like Katharine McPhee-Foster and Jeremy Jordan. And if Lucy herself can rival those two, for the cover to slowly become one of the most compelling covers of the song, period, then you know you’ve found someone special in the musical talents of Lucy Thomas. Lucy also did another only-video cover in Sam Smith’s ‘Writing’s On the Wall’, the song being written initially for the release of the 2015 James Bond movie Sceptre, and while I’m not that familiar with the original, this cover is eloquently and passionately recorded- the enthusiasm can be evidently seen on Lucy’s face through the whole performance.

A unique cover by Lucy (in and amongst all her other covers of broadway songs) is ‘10000 Hours’, originally by Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber, and while I can tell that as hard as Lucy tries, you can totally tell that this pop arrangement is not her initially preferred material, she does give the cover a great crack- I’d rather listen to this cover than the Dan + Shay original…and that’s saying quite a lot. Lucy also presents an English cover of ‘La Vie En Rose’, originally the signature song of French popular singer Edith Piaf- though standing at a little over 2 and a half minutes, Lucy’s powerful rendition showcases her vocals quite compellingly, as we see Lucy in her element and deliver the high notes with much ease and grace, something that isn’t always the case with most people her age. Her age of 17 is a reminder that age is truly a number- you can almost be forgiven to think that the age of Lucy is much higher than that of 17, especially if you’ve only heard her songs and haven’t seen her face before- that’s how refined and steady her singing voice actually is. ‘Somewhere (There’s a Place for Us)’, is a song from the 1957 Broadway musical West Side Story; and is an iconic song that is synonymous with the musical, all these years. Lucy’s rendition of the track is easily as emotive and poignant, as the other cover versions of the song, by familiar artists like Barbra Streisand and Phil Collins. Lucy’s power in her voice is far beyond what people normally assume a 17 year-old should have, and that in and of itself, is something to behold, and remind us all that when someone comes that’s a once-in-a-lifetime vocalist (that I’m sure Lucy is), then people ought to sit up, pay attention, and take notice. Lucy also covers the Josh Groban famous song ‘You Raise Me Up’ in a video-only performance with her sister Martha Thomas, and the cover track is just as powerful and emotive as other covers- namely covers by Westlife, John Barrowman and Peter Hollens. While nothing can still compare to the original by Josh, Lucy’s version comes agonisingly close.

Lucy also tries her hand at covering the rock anthem ‘Fix You’ by British rockers Coldplay (for me, it’s the most famous and the most emotive song by Coldplay, ever), and Lucy’s rendition is just as heartfelt as the original. Even more enjoyable and heartfelt than the covers of this track, by artists like Peter Hollens and acapop kids! Who am I kidding! ‘Fix You’, any cover version, is great. It’s just a great song, period. Lucy then slows it all down with the suuuper slow (and maybe even a little too slow for my liking) rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ (a song originally by Judy Garland for the movie The Wizard of Oz, but now attributed to singer-songwriter Eva Cassidy, who covered the song in the 1990s, which became a big hit during that decade). While I can appreciate the song in general, I actually haven’t seen The Wizard of Oz yet, so maybe, after I check out the movie, I can love the song all the more. But maybe, the slow tempo isn’t really my liking anyway- I’m much more inclined to listen to First To Eleven’s upbeat rock version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ than this cover…sorry! Regardless of this minor hiccup, the rest of Lucy’s discography still stands tall- most recently, Lucy undertook another duet with her sister Martha, this time, the sisters tried the challenge of lending their voices to ‘When You Believe’, a song popularised in the movie The Prince of Egypt and originally sung by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey…big shoes to fill, right? After one listen through (and at this moment of writing, I’ve listened to the song more than just once!), you can totally tell that these two sisters are having a blast, and I’m sure Whitney would be smiling down from heaven, enjoying this powerful cover for what it is- a great rendition, of an already great song.

Lucy’s music is a blessing for anyone who has heard her music. And while Lucy is still a relatively unknown artist in the music community at large, her two albums, and a slew of single covers, can hopefully change that. But even if it doesn’t, and she still releases music to the same level of fanbase that she has right now, then her body of work would still be evident enough for me to say that I’ve made the right decision to place her on this list for artists up-and-coming who are almost certain to be impactful and influential, both now and into the future. And she is, currently, right now, impactful. We are reminded that talent like that only comes around once in a lifetime- you have the artists of yesteryear, like Etta James, Eva Cassidy, Barbra Streisand, and Aretha Franklin, and while it can create a big whole in music when artists of that calibre pass on, the sting it leaves, becomes less and less, knowing that an artist like Lucy Thomas is here, presenting music in virtually the same calibre of quality as these artists aforementioned. It’s not easy to sing all these songs with such precision and enthusiasm at such a ripe ol’ age of 17, and if anyone has the capabilities of that, then they’re just blessed by God, full stop. And that, in and of itself, should be reason enough for anyone to check out Lucy’s work, at least once, right? Lucy’s music has been instrumental in my own life, as I’ve revisited my own appreciation for 1990s ballads, and has reawakened my own continual appreciation of musicals- and hopefully me being able to check out a few more musical films in the months and years to come- maybe I can watch movies/stage productions like Hamilton, A Star is Born and Dear Evan Hansen in the upcoming year ahead? Musicals have a way of telling a story through song, that many other movies (non-musicals) cannot, as we’re reminded that songs in general have the ability to showcase deep and poignant feelings a person may have, that may only find it comfortable to sing about- they are given permission to discuss various issues through song, that they believe they can’t, when it’s just them talking about it.

Musicals are so powerful, and for me, the couple that I’ve seen thus far that have tugged my heart as of this moment, are Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera. Listening to Lucy and her beautifully arranged covers of songs from musicals, reminds me of the wide world of theatre and songs and musicals that I still don’t know about, that I want to know about in years to come. Maybe I can hopefully watch the iconic ones soon- Wicked, Cats, Jersey Boys, Rent, Dear Evan Hansen, Mamma Mia…those ones that people generally know. And if it is somehow by a Lucy Thomas song that has reawakened my very own appreciation of that particular style of music, then that is a good thing. If I’ve realised that musicals aren’t as ‘foreign’ or ‘different’ as what I thought of them to be, through such an artist as Lucy, then I guess her music, and her ability to deliver powerful ballads at such a young age, is something to be respected, admired and honoured for what it is- something used by God in order for us to see far beyond our very own music bubbles we submerse our whole lives in. And it is in this last paragraph, that I implore us all to listen to Lucy’s music, at least once…who knows, you just might find your favourite cover artist and one of your biggest surprises of the year, yet (Cimorelli and Peter Hollens still occupy #1 and #2 of my favourite cover artists…Lucy, though only listening to her for around a month or so, has risen up to #3!).

Does Lucy Thomas make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song, like ‘Run’, ‘Fix You’, ‘Starlight’, ‘Suddenly’, ‘One Day’ or ‘The Day That I Met You’, that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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