"Channeling dusty Americana, rootsy folk, and classic rock à la Neil Young, Kamara Thomas (singer and bassist for the acclaimed hard rock band Earl Greyhound) spins hazy narrative paeans to America’s epic landscape and mythic past. Her bewitching live performance incorporates elements of Native American shamanism, trance-inducing jams, and spellbinding stories of the fabled Old West."
-- Brooklyn Academy of Music
The Short Story
Kamara Thomas is a songwriter, storyteller, and mythology fanatic based in Durham, NC. In 2016 she ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of her upcoming debut album, TULAROSA: AN AMERICAN DREAMTIME, a collection of character narratives describing the complications of the elusive American Dream. For over a decade Kamara recorded and toured internationally as the singer-bassist in the NYC rock band Earl Greyhound, and fronted Americana group The Ghost Gamblers, who released their EP "Earth Hero" in 2013 .
Kamara also develops multidisciplinary, musical, storytelling works aimed at deconstructing the mythological assumptions underlying American belief systems. As a resident at Yaddo, Kamara began development on both TULAROSA and BULGARIA, a musical fairy tale that challenges patriarchal assumptions about feminine creative experience, based on the myths of Persephone and Eurydice. In 2015 Kamara performed the song-cycle from TULAROSA as a featured artist for Lincoln Center Education. She has also presented numerous workshop productions of BULGARIA in New York. In 2016 Kamara made her directorial debut with the short film OH GALLOWS, a conceptual preview of the TULAROSA storytelling work. Check out the video HERE.
The Longer Story
Born in Chicago, Kamara was raised with a Christian fundamentalist ban on rock-n-roll and anything with a discernible beat. She learned to love a good hymn at church, the classical music station, and country music, which as her mother put it was "just about life". Kamara soaked up the sounds of classic country queens Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, outlaws Waylon and Willie, and a bit of Kenny Rogers to boot.
At The College of William and Mary in Virginia, Kamara earned a degree in Theatre and dabbled in atheism, alcohol, art and other guilt-ridden delights. After graduating she landed in Los Angeles, replaced religious guilt with cosmic splendor, concocted a first batch of songs from a porch in Los Feliz, then fled the warmth for a thirteen-year stint in New York.
In 2002 Kamara formed hard-rock trio Earl Greyhound with Matt Whyte, learning bass on the fly and finding an edgier side to her vocal range. Earl Greyhound's first release Soft Targets met with glowing reviews in magazines like The New Yorker, SPIN and Rolling Stone. Heavy touring ensued, with opportunities to open for Chris Cornell, Warren Haynes, and Saul Williams. Their sophomore album Suspicious Package was released in 2010. Along the way, Kamara formed art-rock band Thunderbird with Emily Denton, releasing an eponymously named EP, played wicked drums in eight grrrl pirate-core band Pyradical, and led her first solo project Larune, releasing the live EP Echo Sessions. After ten years of heavy duty rock-n-roll, Earl Greyhound went on hiatus in 2011 to pursue personal goals-- in Kamara's case, a family, a backlog of solo songwriting and a return to her roots in theatre and storytelling.
Kamara's Pyradical persona "The Veil", a kabuki-esque, black-laced phantom, would provide a channeling point for her psych-folk musical Bulgaria: A Fairly Dark Faerie Tale. Songs from the work, Postcards from Bulgaria, was released in 2006. Since then Bulgaria has seen numerous workshop presentations in New York and is now in its final stages of development. Her musical theatre work Tularosa: An American Dreamtime, which explores the mythology and shaping of the American Dream through first-person narrative ballads, was a featured program at Lincoln Center Education in 2015. Kamara will be recording a first volume of songs from Tularosa in 2016.
In 2006 Kamara and her husband, pedal steel player Gordon Hartin, founded the NYC country revue Honky Tonk Happy Hour. Inspired by Gordon's father John Hartin, a virtuoso guitarist and regional music icon from the Texas panhandle, HTHH became a seminal cult favorite of the NYC alt-country scene. Kamara Thomas and The Ghost Gamblers coagulated from the cooling embers of HTHH, and released the EP Earth Hero in 2013. LISTEN HERE
Kamara and her family relocated to North Carolina in 2013, in search of more space and new creative vistas. They now reside in a house in the forest near the Eno River in Durham.