New Artist Spotlight: Keni Thomas
By Tamara Saviano
Stand in front of the post office in Downtown Columbus, Ga. with Keni Thomas and chances are you'll hear someone drive by and yell out, "Hey, Keni Cornbread!"
It's a nickname the singer picked up in the Army as he was the only soldier who liked the pre-cooked cornbread the chow hall fed the troops every week. His comrades pelted Thomas with the stuff while chanting, "Here you go, Cornbread."
Folks in the Southeast know Thomas and his band well. They've been touring constantly through the region and the band has sold more than 10,000 copies of its independent albums. And they were the featured band in the film "Sweet Home Alabama." Cornbread's regional and national success has allowed them to share the stage with artists Tracy Byrd, Toby Keith, Montgomery Gentry and Wynonna.
In addition to being the founder and driving creative force behind Cornbread, Thomas possesses a personal story that is unusual and inspiring. A former Army ranger and member of the elite Task Force Ranger assault unit, Thomas fought in the Somalia battle recounted in the book and motion picture "Black Hawk Down." He also served as military advisor for the film "We Were Soldiers." Thomas was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and the combat infantryman's badge.
But there is more to Thomas than his military background. He's regularly booked as a keynote speaker at corporate meetings and seminars, sharing his motivating message of teamwork and leadership.
Teaming up with GRAMMY award-winning producer Brent Maher and Mark Selby, Thomas has used his unique insight to create Flags of Our Fathers - A Soldier's Story. The album is a collection of songs written by Thomas that tell the stories inspired by life in the military and by those who serve. Special guest artists include BlackHawk, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Carolyn Dawn Johnson, Michael McDonald, Shawn Mullins and Kenny Rogers.
Flags of Our Fathers on Moraine Records was released in January and is available on Thomas' Web site. Part of the proceeds for the album goes to the Hero Fund and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides college scholarships to children of military veterans who died in training or combat.
IN HIS OWN WORDS:
Which song would you secretly like to cover?
"'Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes' by Edison Lighthouse.""
What word or phrase do you find yourself saying over and over?
"Lead by example."
When they look back on your life in 50 years, what do you hope people say about you?
"He was a patriot."
©2005 CMA Close Up News Service