Singer, songwriter, and performer Jan Thompson is first and foremost a citizen of the world. Her music is a reflection of the ups and downs everyone goes through on the journey of life. Sometimes jazzy, sometimes bluesy, it always has a soulful feel and comes from the heart. She connects to people through music and reminds us all that there are ultimately more similarities between humans than there are differences.
Thompson grew up in London with a healthy appreciation for music; her mother was an amateur singer and performed pantomime, her father is an artist and her grandmother’s family would all gather around the piano to sing during WWII. Thompson also learned to love lyrics and melody through the records of The Carpenters and ABBA. While she always loved music, Thompson never thought it would be her career and did not pursue any kind of training until her early 20’s.
With constant encouragement and support from her husband Greg, whom she met while still in high school after he lent her a Maze and Frankie Beverly record, Thompson started vocal lessons. She took a side gig as the singer for a band made up of a group of taxi drivers and her days were spent working at the prestigious Lloyds of London and then it was off to rehearsal. Thompson was able to hone her vocal chops enough to handle the band’s first public performance – a charity gig performing the Carol King classic, “It’s Too Late” in front of over 400 people.
1996 brought the Thompsons to the United States on a temporary work assignment for Greg which turned out to be the tiny sapling that grew into a love for the US with deep roots in the Metro Detroit area. The couple briefly returned to London but found they missed the States so much they returned on a more permanent basis in 1999. Greg continued to grow his career in the automotive field, which turned out to be a blessing for the pair who were able to experience different cultures with several job-related moves.
Thompson was able to focus on her own music while studying, performing and writing for classes taken at Oakland University. She also discovered one of her passions – sharing her expertise as a vocal teacher, which she could do both at home and abroad with foreign students. Thompson teaches all levels of ability; from beginners to advanced and even special needs.
A brief stint designing her own t-shirts under the “Brit Chic” label was a creative outlet and a good way to keep her mind engaged outside of the day to day drudgery of office life after returning from the excitement of foreign travel. Slow sales had the added benefit of getting her focused back on music, because as Thompson so eloquently explains, “Fashion just isn’t my bag – MUSIC IS!” She began teaching again in 2010, wanting to share the joy of music with others.
The universe had other plans, however. Thompson was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and again in 2014. Her battle against the disease and taking a long look at what was important made her realize she wasn’t the artist she wanted to be. The pair moved to San Francisco in 2016, where Thompson took a sabbatical from anything unrelated to her music and spent time really honing her artistry. From there, she attended her first Burning Man in 2017 at the insistence of her husband, and Thompson fell back in love with the freedom of artistic expression. Burning Man is much more than a festival – it is a city created out of nothing in the desert each year which promotes sharing art for art sake. Her annual trips to The Burn have given her the courage and confidence to grow, plus extended her artistic circle even further.
Thompson is focused on creating new and exciting projects that make an impact; including relaunching a duo with Greg and her Senior Serenade series in which she performs at various nursing home and care facilities. Her view of the world stretches into the next decade as the Thompsons continue to travel and gain experience from the best teachers – other people. Thompson will always advocate for kindness and remains hopeful that there can be a positive experience in even the most negative situations. Her music is simply her way of communicating and connecting with people. One culture, one race, together as human kind.