Who has one of the most striking voices in contemporary R&B? Who can be soulful, funky and strike a chord in a person's soul? Gina Thompson. And that is why she named her debut album, Nobody Does It Better. Nobody does.
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Gina Thompson was born into a musical family of 8 children, all who sing. All of the children sang at home, school and more importantly at church. When Gina was seventeen, her pastor called her up to sing a solo. That song was "For Always," by Ce Ce Winans. After a heartfelt performance, Gina was approached by two women who joined the church that night, moved by her singing.
"That touched me so much. I felt that I anointed these women through my voice. God gave witness through my performance. I realized at that time that I was blessed with an amazing gift that I had to share with everyone. I knew then that I had to sing and be the best singer that I could be."
From that point on, Gina was buy honing her vocal skills. By graduation, she was already being ushered into local recording studios with fledgling neighborhood producers. However, it was a session where her older sister was singing background on a gospel album, produced by Teddy Riley protegee, Rodney Jerkins, that Gina made the all important contact that lead to her recording deal with Mercury Records.
"I went to Rodney's recording studio and recorded the song, 'The Things That You Do,'" says Gina. "After hearing the song completed, Rodney signed me to his production company and presented that song to several record companies, one of them being Mercury. When they heard it they became interested, so we went back to Rodney's studio and cut 'Freak On,' and 'Can't Help Myself,' and soon after that I got my deal. It was the best time of my life!"
An intense period of writing and production followed in studios around Manhattan, laying to tape a dynamic onslaught of ground breaking hip-hop soul and darkchild funk, which is what Rodney has named his trademark style of deep, dark grooves. Gina says, "I remember at one point we cut five songs in one week. At times it got tough and tiring on my voice but when that happened I'd just take a step back and realize that I was doing something I love to do. So, I'd drink hot tea and lemon and just keep going."
Although Gina harbors a particular fondness for the songs she co-wrote, most notably, "Freak On," she loved re-making Anita Baker's classic, "Angel," "When it was suggested that would be a good song for me to cover, my initial response was 'No way!'" Gina laughs. "My singing style is just so different from hers, but in the end it was easy and comfortable for me to do. It's a beautiful love song."
Surprised that a new diva would dare re-make an Anita Baker song? Don't be. Gina Thompson is proof that there is real talent in contemporary R&B. So, forget comparisons to the rest and remember the most important thing. Nobody Does It Better.
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