Floyd “Timeless” Thomas thought moving to Fort Wayne would ease him out of the hectic lifestyle of working with nationally known music artists.
But Thomas was surprised by the level of musical talent he found here, and that local performers had no real infrastructure to take their careers to the national level.
That got him back into music production with a goal of developing local talent and putting Fort Wayne on the national music map.
“Detroit was not known for anything but cars before Motown,” he said.
Born in Dallas, Thomas, 29, grew up in South Bend. He started playing drums at age 2, moved up to keyboards at age 13 and then on to bass and lead guitars.
At age 17, he began playing in a band with Chris Ford, who is well-known in local church music circles.
At the same time, Thomas also developed knowledge and interest in operating his own business, he said. The inspiration came from his mother, who started her own cleaning business and grew it into a company with a contract to clean all of the Kmarts in South Bend.
He wanted to start his own record label.
Thomas went on to work in the music industry, playing in the band for noted Christian artist Kirk Franklin and serving as music director for gospel music artist J Moss. He also worked as a music director and producer for renowned urban music production company PAJAM and worked with artist Trey Lorenz, a former backup singer for Mariah Carey, who also collaborated with her on the hit “I'll Be There.”
But the hectic work schedule and travel began to wear on him, and Thomas just wanted to a place to “be settled.”
Former bandmate Chris Ford told him about a job opening here as music director at Summit Church on East Jefferson Boulevard, and Thomas took it five years ago. He since also has been helping Ford with music at Abundant Life church on Coliseum Boulevard at Hobson Road.
“Fort Wayne had a serenity about it,” said Thomas, whose “Timeless” nickname comes from people saying his music is timeless. “It is so peaceful.”
About the same time as he moved here, he also started A1O Entertainment, which now is the parent company for subsidiaries including record label A1O Records, artist management company N'Time Management and production company Timeless Men Productions.
Thomas works with pop, rap, Christian and country music artists at the recording and production studio he set up in an office off Maplecrest Road in the Georgetown Square area. His goal is to develop both their music and their image to make them national stars.
“Floyd is unlike any producer I've ever worked with,” one of his clients, local vocalist Christa Dhladhla, said in an email. “He's a musical genius and understands vocal arrangement like no other. I'm looking forward to working with him more in the future.”
Thomas drew similar praise from the Chrome Cats — brother-sister hip-hop duo Korland “KJ” Sims and Jamila “Mila” Sims. Originally from Vallejo, Calif., the two moved to Fort Wayne to work with Thomas.
“We were happy to work with Floyd on our latest radio record, 'DNA of a Winner,' which was featured on the Billboard (magazine music chart) three weeks in August,” the Simses said in an email. “Floyd and Timeless Men (Productions) … are very talented in production with a great ear. It was a pleasure working with Floyd and learning more about music with him.”
Thomas said he has been working the latter part of this year on setting up his studio and on developing his artists' image and stage presence. He believes the performers — and Fort Wayne — will really start seeing results in 2013.