Never look at the situation you are in as if that is the end result of your life. When I was diagnosed with Cancer and they said there was nothing they could do I did not see it as a death sentence. I prayed, I became still and then enlisted the help of my family, church members and friends to join in on changing what we visualized as a outcome for me.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Thom Washington.
Thom Washington is a multi-faceted and multi-hyphenated successful artist who has deep roots in church and Gospel music. Chemist at Mattel, Music Artist and Pastor of Christian’s Community Center Los Angeles, CCLA, leads the way for Thom to inspire people daily. CCLA’s award-winning choir, Cathedral Choir, who have won the Verizon How Sweet The Sound Title of “Best Small Choir in Southern California” was the absolute support for him having a solo career. Inspiration for this new project During a battle with Colon Cancer, Thom had a revelation to create the lead single “Breathe” on his upcoming album, Nevertheless. As he fought for his life and being told to Breathe by a paramedic who was helping him after he collapsed was something that stuck with him. He knew that those words would encourage others to keep fighting through this pandemic and for their futures. Pastor Washington’s latest single is out on all platforms for sale and streaming everywhere.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in Southern California and I am a PK, a preacher’s kid and grew up in the church. I grew up in a sanctified household and my parents were loving and strong with me. I am a better man for how I grew up. My father was a pastor who has kept his legacy alive, and I now have taken up the mantel of creating a church CCLA. I grew up where you had to be sanctified all the time. I remember listening to radio stations and my father not allowing us to listen to “Heathen Music” but I snuck and listened to it anyway. I turned out just fine.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
As the pastor of CCLA I discovered an awesome asset to our church. Our choir is an award-winning choir. Cathedral Choir who has won the Verizon How Sweet The Sound Title of “Best Small Choir in Southern California.” By leading the choir, I discovered that I had a voice and a message of faith that I wanted to get out to people. My journey of triumph is what started my career as an artist. I have a lot to say on the matter. I’m in the business of spreading the good word.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I was in the middle of living my life with my wife and children and I just felt tired one day. I was in a store shopping and dropped to the floor as I fainted. After going to the doctor, I all of a sudden had been given a diagnosis of Stage 4 Colon Cancer. I went for chemotherapy and after a while the doctors said they did everything they could do. He had a metastasized tumor the size of a grapefruit and he is now Cancer free in remission.
My church gathered and prayed about my condition. When the doctors stated no there’s nothing we could do, God stepped in and said yes there is nothing that you can do but there is something that I can do!
I focused on my eating, praying, and fasting and that lead to a doctor’s appointment where the doctor came in amazed. He stated, “What treatment did you do?” I replied, None. He told me that the tumor shrunk and basically disappeared. I did a short treatment of chemo after that and have been in remission. That was the inspiration for my music. I want to inspire those who feel like God has forgotten about them and there is no hope for them in any situation. I am living proof that God never forgets about you and his timing is impeccable when it comes to you. No one has to understand your faith or believe in the miracle you are asking for but you. You stand on his word and every part of your life will be touched in a way that no one can deny that it is not by your hands or will but it’s the will of God.
Stand on your faith and watch miracles happen.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started, I thought that being a choir director was me just standing there and directing. Oh, was that a mistake. I got to practice, and it was more of hey what is that pitch or what’s that note or what’s that key or what’s the start of this song or hymn. It was way more than I thought, and the choir knew it. Even a PK can be overwhelmed and get it wrong. I soon learned to listen to choir about selections and what sounded best.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
The most interesting project that I am working on is my own project. My project actually is full of great collaborations and we did it all in the middle of the pandemic. I had a great Jazz producer and artist by the name of Adam Omar Hawley. Adam has also been a guitarist to the stars, appearing with a who’s who list of artists in a wide variety of genres. Credits include Dave Koz, Jennifer Lopez, Brian Culbertson, Natalie Cole, Brian McKnight, and American Idol to name just a few. The opportunity to work with my previous band members.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Television and Film are the pillars of entertainment in our country and the world. Diversity in the entertainment industry expands beyond the realm of simply being in front of the camera as an actress or and actor. The portions in which people of color especially Black people are left out of are the integral parts such as: Directors, Producers, Editors, Gaffers and more behind the scenes positions that people of color, BIPOC, Black Indigenous People of Color, should be included in.
Without the content creators we would not have music to plug into a piece of work to make it pop. Music composers and artists make scenes come alive within films and television shows.
Three reasons that it’s important to have diversity in the entertainment industry are:
- BIPOC content creators will make way for more BIPOC music composers to be included in films.
- The diversity of the projects will lead to a more human experience for our culture.
- Diversity in the representation of the artists such as: agents, managers etc. will lead to more representation across the board in terms of people of color being in front and most importantly behind the camera.
The culture will change when it is normal for BIPOC people to be in positions that yield power within the community of entertainment. When there are no more firsts for a BIPOC person to win a certain category in these award shows and most of all when all children can see themselves represented in the projects they view.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Five things I wish someone would have told me when I first started are:
- Never look at the situation you are in as if that is the end result of your life. When I was diagnosed with Cancer and they said there was nothing they could do I did not see it as a death sentence. I prayed, I became still and then enlisted the help of my family, church members and friends to join in on changing what we visualized as a outcome for me. When I went back to the doctor, I had my miracle, which was a diagnosis that the grapefruit size metastasized tumor had dissipated.
- I wish someone would have told me how powerful virtual meeting was. Utilizing software to send data, meet to collaborate saves you time when creating an album. People can be halfway around the world and you can collaborate without leaving your home. I saved so much time doing meetings virtually, sending over songs, acapella versions of my songs etc. to the producers and we completed my project in half the time expected.
- Be creative all the time. It does not matter what condition you are in. I started writing during my sickest time of my Cancer diagnosis and it turned out to be my best work so far.
- Do not quit. If you quit you will never win. If I quit during my diagnosis, I would not be here today. Believe in yourself and the power of two or being gathered together to change a result especially when man says it is no hope.
- Always surround yourself with people who believe in you. I have a beautiful wife, children and a congregation that believed in me in such a way that willed me back to health. Get a “tribe “and allow them to help and you help them too. Reciprocity is key.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Tips I recommend for my music colleagues to help them thrive in the industry are:
- Help yourself by utilizing the latest technology like SmartUrl for your music when posting or sending people to review your music.
- Separate the actual reviewers from potential customers so you can make money.
- Do the music administration. Register your music with Mediabase, BDSOnline and Sound
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
My movement would be to have men get their colon checked and prostate check ups early. I am young and this Cancer snuck up on me and if I had gotten checked later it may have been a different diagnosis. The movement would be for early check-ups of the colon.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful to my father for his tremendous faith. He guided me with his actions not just his words. He was the inspiration for me to become a pastor. My love of music was nurtured by him and my mother. So, being around and in the choirs were my inspiration to become a musical artist.
I used to go to church every Sunday and sneak into rehearsals as a young boy just to hear the musical working that were going on in the church. They just got tired of me hanging out and welcomed me in to practice.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Nevertheless is the project that I was born to make. This is a solo project, just like my journey of late was a solo project. No titles, no big group…this is not a pastor coming to you, this a regular man, confronted with the same challenges and struggles we all face….”
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
I would love to have breakfast or lunch with Stevie Wonder. He’s not just a world renown musical artist he’s a musical genius. I’d love to talk about all of the things he has overcome as a man, a husband, a father and being an artist that’s blind. I would love to swap stories about our triumphs.
How can our readers follow you online?
- Thom Washington on Apple Music
- Thom Washington | Free Listening on SoundCloud
- Pastor Thom Washington | Free Listening on SoundCloud
- Artist Page Spotify: Spotify — Thom Washington
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!