Frisco singer seeks country music breakthrough

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by DEBBIE DENMON

WFAA

Posted on October 20, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 23 at 11:33 PM

Imaj has opened for country music stars Lorrie Morgan and Collin Raye — a huge accomplishment for a Frisco artist who's getting a lot of buzz.

She's a pint-size singer who makes up in depth for what she lacks in height.

Imaj Thomas isn't your typical country singer. She's trying to become the first breakthrough black female to take the country music scene by storm.

"I just want to sing and live a fulfilling life that makes a difference," she said.

The 21-year-old recently moved to Frisco, where she's writing music and recording some of it in her bedroom closet.

Imaj was born with star power in her genes. Her father is actor Philip Michael Thomas, best known for his role as detective Ricardo Tubbs on the "Miami Vice" TV series.

But despite that urban background, Imaj is grounded in country.

"Love Loretta, 'cause she talks about what's real," Imaj said, speaking of country superstar Loretta Lynn.

Imaj belted out a Loretta Lynn tune while rehearsing recently at Gilley's in Dallas. The man who owns the place, Donnie Nelson Jr. — general manager of the Dallas Mavericks — is one of her biggest fans.

"Oh, we love her every time she comes in here. she packs the joint up!" Nelson gushed. "Dallas' little gem!"

Imaj sparkled at the Country Music Awards festival when star Gretchen Wilson invited her to sing.

"She clapped and stomped her foot, and I think that's the best compliment you can give a girl when she's singing," Imaj recalled.

Imaj has also been the opening act for Collin Raye at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

But perhaps the biggest nod of approval comes from multi-platinum songwriter and producer Ron Grimes. "Your strumming is getting phenomenal," he told her.

Grimes has produced three hit songs with LeAnn Rimes that sold more than 10 million copies. That was enough success to let Grimes lay low... until he set eyes on Imaj.

"What I saw in her is just amazing to me," he said. "She's not just a great singer — like just the most amazing country singer that I've ever heard. Just love working with her; her country chops are just unbelievable!"

so this girl from Frisco is hoping to put her fingerprint on the country music scene. Her message: Love and peace.

The only thing left now is trying to convince Nashville to take a chance on something different.

Until then, Imaj says she is "enjoying the journey... that's what life is all about."

Ron Grimes adds this: "I think everybody on this planet is going to know who she is before its over."

E-mail ddenmon@wfaa.com

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