fits many categories – platinum selling recording artist and writer, sultry diva, powerful vocalist, producer, lyricist, stunning beauty, international performer. She is an icon in the global music community and has worked with the brightest the industry has to offer and achieved the highest possible chart success multiple times.
Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Austin has been fronting bands since she was in her early teens…but has been a working singer since she was eight! At the young age of four she began singer with her sister and by eight, they were getting gigs.
In the late 1980s singing led Austin to Los Angeles, CA where she immediately began working in studio with R&B heavyweights like Sami McKinney, Alan Rich and Michael O’Hara and her work soon led to live performances and recording opportunities.
Her travels led her to Penny Ford
, the former lead singer of SNAP!
, who was working on a solo project. Thea was whisked to Germany to begin work on SNAP’s album The Madman’s Return
together with the rapper Turbo B.
She not only sang, but co-authored many of the cuts including the multi-generational anthem “Rhythm Is A Dancer.” That song has lived on through 25 years and continues to be a hit as Austin tours with the “I Love the 90s” show singing it worldwide.
Big gigs aren’t new to Austin. In 1992 Thea
had the distinct honor and privilege of opening for the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson
, at his concert in Bucharest, Rumania, during his Dangerous tour.
As the lead singer of SNAP! she took the world by storm. The first single, Colour Of Love,
soared into the top 10 across Europe and re-established SNAP! as a force with which to be reckoned. Thea played venues from Italy to Germany, Turkey to the Red Sea. The second single Rhythm Is A Dancer
, was even more successful, taking a firm grasp on the #1 position on numerous Billboard charts, including the Euro-chart, Hits of the UK charts and in Germany, Italy and other nations with the video landing at MTV Europe #1. In 1993 Austin began working with other Dance producers and Niki Harris
took over in the group.
From 1993 to 1999 Austin charted numerous times with producers like Chris Cox, Barry Harris and a litany of European heavyweights, gaining multiple chart success in numerous nations.
1999 found Thea as the voice behind Soulsearcher‘s massive international hit I Can’t Get Enough which still gets more than its fair share of radio play. That song and video established her as a Queen in House Music as it is steeped in the Miami sound, produced by Marc Pomeroy.
Her voice was featured on Heart Attack‘s single Eye Of The Tiger. She also did background vocals on Engelbert Humperdinck‘s album The Dance Album.
Overall, she’s garnered multi-platinum, five gold albums and over 10 singles on Billboard Top 200 and/or Top 100.
Perhaps one of the most memorable events in Thea’s career was performing with Soul Searcher at Prince Charles’ Prince’s Trust’s Party in the Park in London in 1999. Packing Hyde Park for the benefit were more than 120,000 people who came to see performances from some of pop music’s biggest stars. Since then she has performed for Justin Timberlake and his charity in Las Vegas and nations like Russia…each an unforgettable experience.
In the US she recorded tracks under the name Pusaka featuring Thea Austin in 2001. The song I’m Addicted To You (a.k.a. You’re The Worst Thing For Me) was written by Thea, Chris Cox and DJ Irene, and then remixed by Chris Cox & DJ Irene. It had been heralded as THE anthem for the summer 2001, and was rushed out as a remix single in May by Tommy Boy Records. DMA Magazine gave this new song 5 Stars, and it turned out to be a smash hit with DJ’s. It zoomed to the top of the Billboard dance charts, and became #1. It could be heard on radio, and on the hit TV shows Queer As Folk, and Sex in the City.
From 2002 to the present Thea has been working on a variety of projects, from hit dance singles and touring, to becoming extremely active in community service. She champions HIV And AIDS causes internationally, performs to raise money for musical programs and instruments for homeless youth and is an active member of the Los Angeles-based community action group Journey.
The resurgence of ’90s dance has brought her right back in to the arenas, performing in Las Vegas as part of Justin Timberlake’s annual charity event. Timberlake himself greeted Thea in her dressing room and told her how he grew up dancing to “Rhythm Is A Dancer” and couldn’t believe she was right there in front of him. She went out and impressed not only Timberlake, the but tens of thousands in attendance showing that this performer remains timeless.
But Austin isn’t content to sit on her laurels or past #1 successes. Outside of writing with some of the hottest new dance producers today, she has compiled new material and is releasing a single in 2018 in addition to the “I Love The ‘90s” tour, Pride Events and other dates.
“This new music is extremely personal. It’s going to have more than just funky grooves. It’s going to be something new, for me, and hopefully for music lovers,” Austin commented from her home studio overlooking the iconic Capitol Record’s building and Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. “It was a huge challenge for me creatively, because I basically wanted to do most of it myself, write, produce, arrange, play, sing. It made me think of the late, great Tena Marie when I had the pleasure of watching her work. She was a one woman dynamo. I remember back then thinking one day I want to be ready to do all of that, and now, here I am! Had she told me then how much work it really is, all the details…. ” she laughed.
Austin is quick to reference the work of contemporary artist.
“Emelí Sande is so this side of amazing,” Austin commented. “Melanie Fiona is singing her face off in every song there’s so many amazing women out here right now, singing from their heart, telling their story from their soul, and with the rising of Beyoncé to the stars, well, it’s a great time to be a female vocalist with something to say,” she added.
“And as for producers, don’t get me started about Naughty Boy and that incredible Euro sound he’s captured, Sam Smith, his vocalist and now incredible solo artist, in dance the advent of the DJ as artist has given us Calvin Harris, the late Avicii was doing such great work, Robin Schulz, Guetta, this is such an exciting time for all genres because they are borrowing, experimenting, doing a Country song with a Dance beat or mixing Jazz, Soul and Funk in to something new and amazing. People who don’t think music is exciting right now, just aren’t listening to the right stuff!”
Staying fresh and current and creating her own vibe is what Thea Austin is all about in 2018 and beyond. She is an icon of Dance music, and is headed for Pop and R&B with her new project. She’s made the world dance and sing, and now, they’re going to feel her soul.
Thea’s life, in her own words…
Peace and Love 4 a positive day…
It’s not just a sentiment I like to share with loved ones on my voicemail, but it’s a philosophy I try 2 live by everyday because as a young girl growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania I learned that sometimes all a working class family has is love to sustain it’s zest for life.
And believe me… Unconditional love, is just what we always shared to bring about peace in a family of seven.
My parents, Loretta and Arter Austin, raised four girls (Vontelle, Stephanie, Thea & Alicia) and a boy (Kurt) in Clairton, Pennsylvania. They were hard working and fun~loving parents who could love like none other, fight like cats and dogs and shine with the best of them. Growing up thru revolutionary and tumultuous times during the sixties, we fought for everything and our parents showed us by example what focus and hard work could accomplish. As a result, they are my heroes.
My parents fed our musical appetites almost daily, always keeping soulful music playing in our home and allowing me to be creatively expressive, as long as my grades were cool. My sister, Vontelle, was my first vocal inspiration as she loved singing and was most excellent at the task. She got me hooked on R&B. Before I knew it, by the age of four I was carrying on with her. By the age of eight, I was singing in a band with my sister, Stephanie. Eventually, the band broke up but I carried on singing and pursuing higher education at the University Of Pittsburgh. Throughout college I honed my craft as I traveled the east coast performing with my band, Rare Experience. After graduating college, I was faced with the perils of young adulthood.
In between all of that living was a lot of gain and failure. Along with those experiences came an overload on my spirit. Eventually, I crashed and burned. Not fully understanding myself and low in esteem, I found myself in a very dark moment and believed the only peace I could find or obtain was by leaving this earth. But, thankfully the Godly love in me saved me. My prayers went out and were heard and answered. As a result, I live.
I lived past those dark and lonely moments to return to loving myself. I learned how to value myself again through taking right action daily. I learned how to appreciate my voice again by singing 24~7. It was daily work of loving myself, lifting myself up, singing everyday, praying everyday, believing in my dreams everyday and serving others with gratitude as much as I could that got me through my darkest days.
Eventually, getting my head and my heart together I decided to accept the invitation from my friend, Donna, to move to Los Angeles. We drove across country in my Chevy and dug in. From working as a house-keeper/baby sitter to writing for an international music publication, to recording session after recording session, in other words, paying my dues. Whoever knows when that is enough? Some pay forever and never get the rewards. I was lucky, fate smiled, all the hard work paid off, and I finally ~ as they say ~ “Made it”!
I landed a gig with the dance collective, SNAP! and penned “Rhythm Is A Dancer” which put me on the international journey of my life! The song went number one worldwide, topping Billboard Magazine Pop 100 Chart ~ CNN Top 20 Songs of the year ~ Top Of The Pops ~ Opening for Michael Jackson’s HBO Special ~ Prince Charles’ Party In The Park ~ Tour after tour after tour. A wonderful whirlwind adventure. And it hasn’t stopped. For 20 years now, I’ve been blessed to have this song and others placed in major motion pictures, television shows, commercials and more.
It was everything I expected, and nothing I could have known. The stage was rewarding, but sometimes, the life of an artist, even a working one, especially a working one, can be a challenge. For ever door it opened, it brought a new set of challenges, new work to be done. I got to pour my heart in to music daily which brought both financial rewards and rewards of the spirit. I formed a West Coast family, and then, an international one; connections I treasure to this day and sustained me both at those hectic times, and even when some of the noise quieted down.
In 2000, I got married to a beautiful man, J. Calvin Johnson. But, after ten years, our marriage saw its final season. Thankfully, we are still friends. Why? How? Who can say why two people meet, fall in love, and then that love changes over time.
Now, in the middle of my life I am single again, living in Los Angeles, loving myself and respecting my life. I still love and enjoy my family & friends so much. I love singing with a passion, music, traveling and now Journey Sistahs and all that we do. Our platform and community service has added an amazing new dimension to my life.
I am Thea Therese Austin. I am a woman with great love, good substance and of good service. I am as strong as my family and friends around me, along with my faith in God. And that knowledge is how I’ve fostered so many positive, personal and professional relationships that help to sustain me.
My passion for music remains. I am a full time singer/songwriter/guitarist/music producer. Music is my soul’s way of interpreting life; it is how I process things in the world that happen to and around me. It is a daily blessing.
When I get discouraged, I sing ~ pray ~ workout and love to the fullest. I wake up and start singing about whatever I’m feeling, and give thanks for being up and able to see a new day. I walk in my destiny by doing this daily. The rest will be what it’s going to be. And I will be right there in the midst of it fighting a good fight. Valuing my life.