Thomas Francis is one of Toronto’s leading pianists and is well-known for his extensive background in jazz and soul-based musics. He grew up in a house full of music, and has a shared a family lineage of musicianship. Thomas became sensitive to the structure of classical and standards while feeding off of the musicality and expression of Jazz, Soul, Latin and Funk musics.
Entering Humber’s Community Music School children’s program at the age of three was the beginning of a long training process for Thomas. He began his piano lessons at age five – eventually making his way to jazz studies at age eight. At 16, Thomas was awarded Downbeat’s Outstanding Performance award, and in the summer of 2007 joined the Toronto All-Star Big Band. He completed his diploma at Humber College’s full-time program, and went on to complete his B.F.A in Music at York University. In 2017, Thomas completed his Master of Arts in Composition, for which he wrote a thesis on the relationship between Jazz and Hip-Hop musics. Outside of piano and keyboard performance, Thomas is well-known for his musicianship skills in writing and arranging for strings, having established his own contemporary string ensemble, The Four Strings.
Thomas can often be seen playing with Canadian icons such as Juno winning Jazz vocalist Kellylee Evans, Pop artist Dan Talevski, or R&B and Soul diva, Elise LeGrow. He has performed and/or recorded with Tony Royster Jr. (Jay-Z), Alexis Baro (Gemini Award winning Jazz artist), Melanie Durrant (Juno nominated R&B artist), KC Roberts & The Live Revolution (Toronto Funk band), The Reklaws (Canadian Country duo), and George St. Kitts (Toronto Soul icon). He was also musical director for The Spandettes, a female-fronted, Toronto-based, Disco/R&B group, with whom he toured to Japan. Thomas can be seen in his element with his instrumental Hip-Hop/Jazz ensemble, Thomas Francis Friends.