Shawn Thomas is a contemporary Christian singer/songwriter and worship leader whose ministry includes an outreach to the GLBT community. Shawn visits churches, groups, and events sharing about his belief in God's grace and affirming love through concerts, workshops, and spoken message. As a "CCM" artist (Contemporary Christian Music), many of Thomas’ original works are included in the CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) Library.
He is also the owner/operator of "Shawn Thomas Studios" in West Palm Beach, FL providing audio recording, production, and mastering services to independent artists, songwriters, and bands, and he participated as a voting “Grammy” member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences from 2009-2015.
Early life and education
Aaron Thomas Steiner was born November 2, 1968; his father was a pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He began using Shawn Thomas as his stage name in college and later legally changed it to Shawn Aaron Thomas. Thomas started recording original material for the first time in 1990, learning audio production basics from Jeff Peters of Chateau Productions in Dallas, TX, and he later graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 1991 with a BA in Music Industry and Recording Industry Management.
Career and Recognition
Shawn’s first recording of original Christian music was released in 2003 (see Discography below), although previous albums and projects had been released as secular/pop music as early as 1993. Since that time his recordings have varied in style, but remain in the CCM genre because of lyric content which focuses on Thomas’ faith. His website lists his tour dates as ranging from 80-100 performances a year within the US and Canada. Also listed on his website is critical acclaim recognition including:
- four-time Pride in the Arts Awards recipient and 14-time nominee including Producer of the Year
- RightOutTV Music/Video Awards recipient and 7-time nominee
- OutMusic Awards nominee for Outstanding New Inspirational Recording
- Indie Music Awards recipient for Best Independent Songwriter
- Editors Choice Award recipient from QNation.fm
- Voters Choice Award recipient from Unashamed Faith Café Radio
- five number one songs have been listed on the OutVoice.net singles chart
- only artist to have two songs simultaneously appear on the annual OutVoice Top 10 Songs
- two number one singles listed on Pride Christian Music
In 2010, Shawn Thomas published a book describing his experience as being both gay and Christian. Titled, "Unashamed - Coming Out of the Second Closet", the volume deals with being in the crosshairs from both groups, as many Christians think his sexuality is incompatible with faith and many in the GLBT community believe his faith runs contrary to GLBT causes. The book became controversial after certain reviews and some in the GLBT community criticized Thomas for sharing his political views which could be described as "conservative". In several passages in the book, Thomas alludes to Libertarian political perspectives.
UP (Unashamed Praise)
"UP (Unashamed Praise)" is a first-of-its-kind compilation CD released in Feb, 2011 and produced by Shawn Thomas. It is unique in that it is a collection of 14 GLBT Christian recording artists such as Marsha Stevens-Pino and Rev. Delores Berry. The title track, "Hands Up", is a work contributed, written, and recorded by Thomas. In 2012, "UP vol.2" was released with 12 additional tracks also recorded by members of the GLBT who profess to be Christian.
GLBT Hall of Fame
On December 19, 2012, Shawn Thomas was officially inducted into the GLBT Hall of Fame. According to the press release posted on the Hall of Fame website, he was approved for membership based on: “…the work Shawn Thomas has done to provide a positive and healing atmosphere for today's GLBT Christian… [including building] bridges of understanding and acceptance for the GLBT community within the non-GLBT Christian community… and through his music and book [highlighting] the negatives thrust onto out GLBT Christians by the GLBT community.”
The Power of NOT
In 2015, Thomas simultaneously published his second book along with a new song (inspired by the book) released as a free single. The book is titled, "The Power of NOT: Positive Results from Negative Affirmations" and the song is called, "Know You're Not." Both the song and the book are related in theme dealing with "self-help" and personal "motivation" as categorized on Amazon.com. Gospel Singer, Kenny Bishop, calls this concept of Thomas', "the science of reverse positivity."
The single, "Know You're Not" was the fastest charting song of Thomas's career, hitting the OutVoice Top 10 Song Chart in less than six weeks from its release. The YouTube video page for the song includes this description: "The message of encouragement in both the book and the song are the same: Identify who and what you are NOT in order to discover everything that you ARE."
Shawn Thomas currently resides in the West Palm Beach area of Florida with his husband, Brian Ladd, to whom he was legally married on March 13, 2015. Brian and Shawn were both recognized by Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches in 2009 with community service awards. Brian received “The Cherish Award” for his leadership in ministry, and Shawn was presented the “Ruby Slipper Award” in recognition of his work as an “out” contemporary Christian artist. Ladd also appears on two Shawn Thomas albums singing with Thomas, and debuts his first recorded original song on the "UP vol.2" compilation called, "Come To Me".
Discography and Awards
From 2003 to 2014, Thomas has released a total of thirteen CD/albums of mostly original Christian music ranging in style from spiritual, praise & worship, pop, ballads, rock:
- "Everything I Am" (First Ministry CD 2003)
- two number one singles and listed in Top 20 for over 12 months on Pride Christian Music Charts.
- "Born" (Christmas Album 2004 - out of print)
- "Changed" (Contemporary Mix 2005)
- nominated for Outstanding New Inspirational Recording by OutMusic Awards.
- "Revisited" (Compilation CD, 2006)
- "Faith Unashamed" (2006, re-released special edition double disk CD/DVD 2007)
- listed on OutVoice’s Top 40 for over 23 months and in the Top 10 for over a year.
- the single, “What Am I Gonna Do with You” listed as the most viewed video on TheQTube for over 6 years.
- "Worship & Desperation" (Praise & Worship music, 2008)
- Editors Choice Award from QNation for the single, “You Are Here Lord.”
- "Revisited Vol. 2" (Compilation CD, 2009)
- named Album of the Year by the Voters’ Choice Awards from the Unashamed Faith Café Radio Program.
- the single “Out in This World” received the RightOutTV Music Video Award for Best Dance Video.
- "UP - Unashamed Praise" (Compilation CD with 14 other GLBT Christian Artists, 2011)
- "Covered and Created" (Double disc-album of 10 cover songs and 10 original songs, 2011)
- the song, “Hero” (a cover of Mariah Carey’s original) listed at number one on OutVoice Charts and the album also hit number one and stayed in the Top 20 for over 18 months.
- the single “Orphans of God” performed as a trio with Shawn’s life-partner, Brian Ladd, and worship leader, Jeremiah Cummings, received a nomination for Most Moving Video by the RightOutTV Video and Music Awards.
- "UP - Unashamed Praise Vol. 2" (Compilation CD with 12 other GLBT Christian Artists, 2012)
- "The Collection" (Compilation "Best of" CD, 2013)
- "Voice of Worship" (Praise & Worship music, 2013)
- listed in the Top 20 CDs of 2013 by OutVoice.
- the single, “Separated” received a RightOutTV Video and Music Award Nomination.
- “In Between the Shades of Gray” (Studio-pop/Christian-rock Mix, 2014)
- received three nominations from the RightOutTV Video and Music Awards.
Prior to 2003 he released three secular projects:
- "Come My Way" (no longer available, 1993)
- "Typical Male" (no longer available, 1995)
- "Out In This World" (available only in digital download, 1999)