Chicago’s Grammy® Award winning Thompson Community Singers, or The Tommies, as their fans call them; dominated the gospel music airwaves from the start of the Reagan administration to the close of Clinton’s. They reigned as America’s No. 1 choir with massive hits such as “For the Good of Them,” “There is No Failure in God,” “If I Be Lifted,” “I’m Available to You” and “Safe in His Arms” which still pulls 50,000 streams a week – over thirty years after its initial release in 1986. Its founder, Rev. Milton Brunson, died in 1997 and the choir eventually disbanded.
However, the primary soloists, songwriters and musicians who made the choir great in its heyday are back as The Tommies Reunion with their first new album in years. The 14-track album, The Tommies Reunion (7 Legend/Journey/Tyscot), which features the bustling radio single, “He Worked It Out,” a Top 30 hit. “It is reminiscent of the legendary Tommies sound,” Jay Bryant, Program Director at WAGG 100.1 FM/610 AM in Birmingham, AL, says of the song. “There is no other group exactly like them. It can be argued that the Tommies are the best choir ever.”
The original Thompson Community Singers were formed by Rev. Milton Brunson in 1948 when he was still a high school student. The community choir regularly met and rehearsed at Chicago’s St. Stephen’s Church where the pastor, Rev. Eugene Thompson, was a huge supporter, and christened itself in his honor. Brunson eventually became an ordained minister and formed Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in 1962. The group began recording for Vee-Jay Records in 1963 at the same time that the historic black-owned label introduced the now-iconic Beatles rock band’s first LP to a North American audience..
Over the years, the group recorded for HOB/Scepter Records and Nashboro/Creed Records before joining Word Records (Myrrh/Rejoice) in 1982. They enjoyed a solid decade of success that included five Billboard No. 1 albums and numerous accolades. Rev. Brunson died suddenly in 1997. His widow continued the choir for a while and supervised its final album Real, for Word Records in 2000. A few years later, Darius Brooks and other key members of the group, convened for the Tommies Reunion and recorded the regional album releases, Side A and Side B, in 2008. The brilliant album, The Tommies Reunion, is a continuum of their rich history.
Some of the voices that molded their classic songs such as Percy Bady, Kim McFarland, Tina Watson Conley, Leanne Faine, Denise Battle and Brooks are back and featured on these brilliantly rendered musical gems. The players have returned as well such as Steve Huff, Richard Gibbs, Al Willis, Tyrone Block, Bady, Brooks and Rev. Brunson’s son, Kevin Brunson. “It was an incredible blessing to bring all the original band members and choir director together to write and produce for this project,” Brooks says. “We have all gone on to accomplish great things in our own respective careers, but it was just an incredible blessing to be together again.” The Tommies earned four Grammy® nominations and won one trophy as Best Gospel Album by A Choir or Chorus for the album, “Through God’s Eyes” in 1994.
THE TOMMIES REUNION FACTS
THE TOMMIES REUNION DISCOGRAPHY
2019 The Tommies Reunion
2008 Side B (Regional Release)
2006 Side A (Regional Release)
THE TOMMIES / THOMPSON COMMUNITY SINGERS SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY
2001 Real N/A Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
1998 50 Blessed Years #24 Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
1997 HE’S STILL GOOD #09 Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
1995 SHOUT #05 Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
1994 THROUGH GOD’S EYES #04 Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
1993 MY MIND IS MADE UP #01 Billboard Top Gospel Albums Sales
1989 AVAILABLE TO YOU #01 Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
1987 IF I BE LIFTED #01 Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
1986 THERE IS HOPE #01 Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
1984 MIRACLE LIVE #06 Billboard Top Gospel Album Sales
GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS AS THE TOMMIES
1995 SHOUT Best Gospel Album by A Choir or Chorus
1994 THROUGH GOD’S EYES Best Gospel Album by A Choir or Chorus - Won
1990 OPEN OUR EYES Best Gospel Album by A Choir or Chorus
1989 AVAILABLE TO YOU Best Gospel Album by A Choir or Chorus
SOUL TRAIN MUSIC AWARDS AS THOMPSON COMMUNITY SINGERS
1988 MY MIND IS MADE UP Best Gospel Album
STELLAR AWARD NOMINATIONS AS THE TOMMIES REUNION
2008 THE REUNION LIVE – SIDE A Choir of the Year
2008 THE REUNION LIVE – SIDE A Traditional Choir of the Year