Jonah Thompson

A native of Lewiston, North Carolina, Jonah Thompson was born in 1935 and brought up in the Pentecostal Church. Although neither of his parents nor any of his 13 siblings was particularly musical, Thompson began picking out tunes on an acoustic guitar belonging to his aunt. In high school, his religious upbringing and interest in music were made manifest by the Harmonizing Kings, an a cappella group consisting of a brother, a cousin, and a classmate. Thompson relocated to Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood in the mid-‘50s, and had spent the previous 25 years as a full-time cab driver and custodian, and part-time songwriter and working musician. “Nine years I been turned down, every song I wrote I took around,” Thompson sang on “I Must Be Strong,” his semi-secular 1972 single for Friday Records. That streak would last another eight years. A chance run-in with Julius Dixson at Midtown bar shifted Thompson’s fortunes only slightly, but when faced with holding a mop or a guitar, Jonah chose the six-string. Two Thompson originals—“Get Involved” and “Goodness Of God”—would be tracked under Dixson’s watchful eye for Inspiring Records, a company that never filed articles of incorporation and issued just that one single. Michael Walker, Thompson’s cousin, played keyboard, with the mysterious R. Bryant on drums and the awesomely named M. Fugazy on synthesizer. The buying public wasn’t interested in getting involved with Jesus or Thompson, and the latter’s association with Dixson ended soon after. “Sweeter” b/w “Jesus Loves You” followed a few years later on Superstar Records, a name the label failed to live up to.

Jonah Thompson Appears on: