Jazz Vocalist Actress Voice Over Artist
Mardra Thomas is known for her realistic portrayal of Billie Holiday in concert and on the theatrical stage. You will hear a true jazz vocalist with a voice well suited to showcase Holiday’s sculptured phrasing that stamped a signature style on jazz singing. Mardra’s music career was sparked in the St. Louis area when she performed for the opening of Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Birthday Concert. Shortly thereafter she found herself trading scat solos with world-class trumpeter Clark Terry while performing with the East St. Louis Lincoln Big Band under the direction of renowned educator Ronald Carter. Curtains were opened for the theatrical stage when Mardra debuted in Unity Theatre’s “COTTON CLUB REVUE; she went on to deliver stunning interpretations performing in the roles of both Bessie and Sadie Delaney-HAVING OUR SAY, Lady in Green-FOR COLORED GIRLS, Power Woman-MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL, Billie Holiday-LADY DAY AT THE BOSTON BISTRO and LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILL, and as Mama/Mildred–Terry McMillan’s MAMA at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston/Salem NC, Sharon McGhee’s THE POCKETBOOK MONOLOGUES. She most recently produced-directed and performed Sandra Seaton’s CHICAGO TRILOGY at the 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival.
For five years Mardra was the resident vocalist for the St. Louis Sheldon Concert Hall’s youth educational program “The Jazz Story. Her sultry voice can be heard in radio and TV spots and is released on CD recordings such as Jim Widner Big Band “Rides Again”, “Fade To Blue”(Max Jazz Records), “Standard Times (Victoria Records), as the Flying Jazz Kitten in Sharon Burch’s “Freddie the Frog” music educational book/CD series (Mystic), “Better Than Alright” with Michigan State University’s Professors of Jazz, and her latest release with husband Reggie Thomas is “Matters Of The Heart”(MRTJazz) available on CDBaby.com and iTunes.
You’ll see her in theatres, concert halls and premier clubs such as Kansas City’s Blue Room and St. Louis’ Jazz at the Bistro. She has shared the stage with diversified greats including: Bobby Watson, Bill Pierce, Clay Jenkins, Dennis Mackrel, Don Vappie, Ernie Adams, Harold Jones, Jeff Campbell, Kim Richmond, Will Matthews, Lou Marini, Randy Brecker, Rodney Whitaker, Victor Goines, and on many occasions with her husband pianist/organist Reggie Thomas in their ensembles. Mardra has presented voice workshops for schools throughout the country including Monterey’s Next Generation Jazz Festival, Berklee College of Music-Boston, Birch Creek Music Academy-Egg Harbor, Eastern Washington University-Spokane, International Association of Jazz Educators-Toronto, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington Educational Festival-New York, and Michigan State University-East Lansing. You will find Mardra’s voice center stage at music festivals all around the world. Whether you see her in Washington or Wisconsin, Atlanta or Amsterdam expect to be allured by her acting and mesmerized by her music!
“Critics say Thomas may be the best vocalist to interpret Holiday”, Her vocal styling and portrayal of “Lady Day” have mesmerized audiences across the country.” –St. Louis Jazz Notes
“…Mardra, a vocalist and actress whose experience in theater brings an extra dimension to her interpretations of song lyrics.” –The Riverfront Times
“Mardra Thomas brings the character of Mama to full-blooded, fully rounded life. Especially fine are Thomas’ scenes with Bonnie Harmon…” –The Riverfront Times
“Mardra Thomas has the impeccable phrasing of Nancy Wilson, and also the sharp tang reminiscent of Eartha Kitt.”
-Mike Stratton WLNZ LCC Radio
“Mardra Thomas is gripping as Mildred, Her scenes with her good-hearted sister-in-law (Bonnie Harmon) snap with the authenticity of overheard conversation.” – St. Louis Post Dispatch