Editor’s Note: This interview between Gino Terrell and Imaj was originally written as an article for the now-defunct online platform “Creative Unity.” It has been republished at Idol Features courtesy of Gino Terrell.
Imaj is a country singer and songwriter who was labeled a “Millennial to Watch” in 2017 by Dallas Weekly. The Amazon Top 10 Best Country Selling Artist uses her musical talents to spread world peace which she had done in her viral track “Colorblind,” a song about embracing diversity that accumulated over 3.3 million views across multiple platforms. As a child she was taught by her parents that she could be anything she aspired to be as long as it sparked a positive change in the world, Imaj said.
As the daughter of television’s iconic Miami Vice actor Philip Michael Thomas and her model mother Kassandra Thomas, who’s now her momager, she was surrounded by support to help her follow her dream. Always exposed to the arts as a child, along with her four brothers, Imaj has fond memories of her father singing to her every morning as a little girl. She also remembers him playing the piano, composing music and writing lyrics.
“He was incredibly creative,” Imaj said of her father. “So you ended up being creative yourself.”
In the plant based household where the self-proclaimed “beach bum” grew up in Miami Beach, Florida instruments were always around the house which is what led to her playing the guitar. She eventually found that country would be the genre of her choice as something about the tune “gravitated” towards her. As a professional in the industry she’s become known for her single “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” from her debut album “IMAJ,” in addition to her viral hit “Colorblind” that is included on her sophomore album “America’s Sweetheart.” She has also performed on stage with platinum country artists Collin Raye and LeAnn Rimes, who ironically is a doppelgänger Imaj is often mistaken for but is okay with it saying Rimes is “an incredible human being” as well as an artist she loves. Having worked with Imaj, Raye sees much potential in Imaj.
“Imaj is country’s next big star,” Raye once said.
While Imaj was once nominated for “American Roots Song of the Year” at the RoundGlass music awards for Imaj she is not making music for the fame. Imaj is a firm believer that success isn’t what she feels most people equate success to as they link it to obtaining wealth and fame. While she has had her share of fame and supporters what matters to Imaj more is the “significance” of her music. Music she created with the purpose to bring peace to the world.
“The true meaning [of success] is creating a change,” Imaj said. “Significance is important for me, more so than fame.”
This is why performing performing Ron Grimes written song “Colorblind,” that she later helped co-write, was important for her as the message was universal. The song is to teach people you don’t have to be blind to color but see all colors and embrace differences between one and another, she said.
“We’re stronger together. Diversity is a strength and it’s a beautiful thing,” Imaj said.
To further her life’s mission to make a positive change Imaj is constantly staying active in the community whether she’s speaking at Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts, assisting with relief efforts as she did in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey or lending a hand to help PTSD Foundation of America. On her path throughout life she continues to be open to doing whatever she can to make the world a better place.
“I”m open to whatever God has in store for me. I believe I’m being used as a vessel,” Imaj said.
While being the daughter of the actor who played the iconic Ricardo Tubbs, partner of Sonny Crockett (played by Don Johnson) on Miami Vice, she’s seen the impact of how a legacy can live on for years. Miami Vice was known for how it changed the genre of primetime television shows, made Miami a destination and its fashion as men started wearing pastels in that era to emulate the styles Crockett and Tubbs swagged out on television. Although Miami Vice aired its last episode in 1989 the show has never went away as fans to this day still rave to her about the show.
“Its wonderful, it’s something a part of me,” Imaj said of the Miami Vice legacy. “Vice fans are the best. They’re wonderful people and [they are] all around the world.”
And like father like daughter, Imaj is changing up the game within the genre of country music as QueenLatifah.com once named her “The New Face of Country.”
It “makes me hopeful that our society is changing,” Imaj said.
Nearly 50 years ago country was not a diverse genre but through Imaj country may evolve as a genre that allows for more diversity. Ultimately, this could be another bridge to help bring people together.
“We, as a world, are ready for change,” Imaj said. “I’d like to see people sitting down. Two different minds, come together and find resolutions.
“We, Millennials, all we really want is to live in peace. At the end of the day we all have to share the same (environment), so why not have it a peaceful planet.”