Known by many as the Senior Director, Writer/Publisher Relations for BMI,
Thomas Cain is first and foremost a great musician. He plays piano, organ
and trumpet and he has a Bachelors degree in music education from TSU.
He’s a great singer, publisher, producer and songwriter, in addition to
having opened shows for artists such as Ray Charles, George Benson, Bill Withers, Ramsey Lewis, Donny Hathaway, Dave Brubeck, Melba Moore and Johnny Mathis. In 1991, Thomas was honored with the Choice award and in 1999 he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. He’s written and
or performed on jingles for national products like McDonald’s and Oscar
Meyer, and he performs with his group, The Thomas Cain Band.
The followingis taken from a 30 minute interview in Nashville, August, 2010. Meet
Q: How old were you when you started playing music?
A: I was 10 years old. My Grandmother had an old pump organ, you know
where you pump the peddles, and the peddles were broken and I took some
coat hangers, nails, tied it, wired it all up, and I actually taught
myself to play. It was Athens, Alabama and nobody there but me and that
old organ (laughing).
Q: You also play trumpet?
A: I was a trumpet player for many years. I studied trumpet from Junior
High all the way through college.
Q: A few years back you were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
That had to be a huge honor.
A: Well it was wonderful I must say to be a part of that especially when
it’s from your home state. You leave and you kind of forget how important
where you come from is. It was great and I’ve been going to the Alabama
Hall of Fame induction ceremonies ever since too. Just came from one this
year down in Montgomery, Alabama, it was really great. That’s where all
the great music was, you know set around Muscle Shoals.
Q: You have a trio?
A: A quartet, depending on how the money is (laughing), sometimes it’s a
trio. (laughing) People call me, I go out of town and go all over the area
around here playing. It’s so great, I just love it.
Q: What was it like opening for Ray Charles?
A: Oh my God man that was incredible. We were at Vanderbilt University and
it was just totally amazing because I’ve always loved his piano playing.
To be able to be on the same stage with Ray Charles was just like the
Q: Who really gave you your start as a player?
A: The one person that I probably owe all of it too is Bob Beckham. He was
the president of Combine Music. He actually gave me the key to the
building and we could come and go anytime we wanted to. 2, 3 o’clock in
the morning people would be over there writing or doing something. Man
I’ll tell you what, I was just so thrilled to be in a building where
people like Kris Kristofferson, Tony Joe White, Larry Gatlin, Bob
Morrison, Bob DiPiero, John Scott Sherrill. All these great songwriters
they were in this building. These were guys I used to hang with. I used to
travel with Tony Joe and play in his band.
Q: Do you have a preference for playing in the studio or live?
A: Well it’s a different animal. You know for a while there, that’s how I
made my living. I’d be doing sessions 10, 2, and 6, and sometimes 10 at
night, and I was doing that for years, doing jingles and singing
background, playing gigs, I used that for my seed money. As a result of
that, playing in the studio is a real controlled environment. Playing live
you have a totally different animal where you can just explore in areas
that you’ve never been before and that’s the difference to me.
Q: You have a new CD out, what’s it called?
A: I did that live in BB Kings club here in Nashville, it’s called “The
Love Of A Woman”. I actually titled it a song that I wrote with two guys
here in Nashville. We had this song that was on Diamond Rio’s record,
their “I Believe” album. I like the song so much because it blends Country
music and R&B music together and I’ve played it live and people really
respond to that song, so I decided I would call my album, “The Love Of A
Q: Do you have any advice for anybody new to town?
A: I think they need to be prepared to get disappointed about things and
they need to develop a really tough skin. I strongly suggest they do what
I used to do and people still do. Go into the Bluebird Cafes and the
Douglas Corners, the 12th & Porters, and listening to what people are
writing. Then just being available, showing up. I think most of the time
when you show up for an event, something usually happens. You meet
somebody or you press flesh with somebody, shake hands with somebody, you
get to know somebody that may change your life. I know they did for me. I
met a lot of people in those kinds of situations that really changed my life.