Joshua Thompson

A guitar player since the age of 10, Thompson went to the Livingston campus of Rutgers University, where he studied with Kenny Barron and Frank Foster, who served a term as Count Basie’s arranger. In the early ’80s, Gwen Guthrie recorded one of Thompson’s songs. By the end of that decade, he had worked his way up, co-penning the title track of Aretha Franklin’s album, What You See Is What You Sweat.
The now defunct House of Music recording studio in New York City was a kind of post-graduate environment for Thompson. ?That was a great studio,? he recalls. ?Most people know that Kool & The Gang recorded ?Celebration? and most of their other hits there. I learned a lot about how to produce by watching Deodato work with that band. He did a great job producing their Ladies Night album. Deo had a way of sifting through the writing, finding the great melodies and grooves, and thinning out the ideas so that the best elements shined through. I saw that, with him, producing was about not overcrowding the music. Deo also knew how to build an arrangement from start to finish. A lot of producers today overlook this, and it’s a critical mistake. Quincy Jones is also a master of nuance and layers. Again, though, it all starts with a great song.?
Thompson’s big breakthrough came when he began writing with Joe. ?Joe and I developed a level of writing chemistry back in ’95 that I’d not experienced before. Joe came up in the church. He has a lot of melodic skills and innate ability. He’s trained on the guitar, bass, drums and keys, and I play guitar and keys. My harmonic concept opened up some of his melodic ideas and we combined on lyric writing. Joe delivers a song so well that he makes writing easy! He can make a B song sound like an A song, like Marvin Gaye could.
?We wrote ?All the Things Your Man Won’t Do? for a movie called Don’t Be a Menace While Drinking Your Juice in the ‘Hood,? he continues. ?Joe didn’t even have a record deal at the time, but radio stations started playing the song a lot, and Joe got with Jive Records. That track set Joe up as a solo artist. At this point, we’ve written about 40 songs together and have had some of them covered by Luther, Babyface and Case. Case recorded ?Missing You,? which was used in the film The Nutty Professor II. It spent four weeks on the pop charts last year and reached Number One on the Billboard R&B charts.?