December 01, 2002

JOSHUA PAUL THOMPSON

By DAMIEN M. WEST

JOSHUA PAUL THOMPSONWith hits such as "Faded Pictures" and "All The Things," lyricist and producer Joshua Paul Thompson has made his mark on today's popular music. The Orange, New Jersey-born superproducer was widely exposed to jazz, blues and rock music as a kid. As a result, his musical tastes range across a wide spectrum of artists and musical genres.

Thompson began playing piano at age 8 and guitar at age 13, then went on to study music at Rutgers University. His great musical knowledge is evident in the music he's created for and with R&B crooner Joe, the sensational Luther Vandross, Babyface, Alicia Keys and many others.

His passion for music continues to grow and his drive to succeed is motivated by constantly setting new standards for himself and the music he creates. Undoubtedly, he knows the importance of being different and setting his own pace. "I appreciate people taking risks and taking chances. Artists need to go outside of the norm and do different things," Thompson says of combining musical elements to create a unique sound.

Thompson's connection to music extends past the songwriting and producing element. He sees music as a way of telling stories. His powers of observation are such that in almost every situation he hears a song. "The levels of creativity should never end," Thompson says, "If you think you have it all then the music suffers." He also adds that there must be some form of the truth in the lyrics of the songs he's crafted.

When creating a song, Thompson develops a concept, writes clever lyrics, then lays the track down. "It is the concept that dictates the melody and mood of the song," he says. This process obviously works for him and is most evident in Joe and Case's chart topping hit "Faded Pictures," which details memories of an old lover communicated through photographs. The song demonstrates Thompson's clever ability to tell a story:

Faded pictures in a broken glass
Like a mirror revealing
What the woman is feeling
Was it someone from a distant past?
Cuz it's breaking my heart
So won't you stare into the glass?

Most noted for his collaborations with Joe, Thompson admits that he and the singer share the same approach in creating timeless music. "It's very important," he explains, "to be humble and have a strong work ethic. Joe and I feed off of each other. We have a mutual respect and we are able to keep our egos in check. We are able to say let's look at it your way and let's look at it my way."

The two have collaborated on numerous hit songs, including "All The Things," "Any Other Night," "Can Heaven Wait," "Missing You," and "Reason For Breathing."

Thompson also admits that his music is evolving because he's always willing to learn, especially from R&B and jazz music pioneers, which might explain why he's currently working on jazz guitar giant George Benson's next project.

Without question, Thompson is sure to remain in the high ranks of today's top writer/producers. He seems to have found what works for him and what doesn't. With this in mind, he maintains consistent excellence and is able to stay true to his craft. His deep-rooted jazz influences allow him to add his own unique element to contemporary music, and so far, R&B and pop music lovers are both satisfied.

Joshua Paul Thompson's ASCAP Audio Portrait