From Hometown Rising to Billy Ray-Cyrus, Country Singer IMAJ Returns to State Fair of Texas

Published on October 16, 2019

Meet Imaj Thomas (“IMAJ”), a Miami Beach native and up-and-coming country singer who has toured with a variety of artists including LeAnn Rimes. The daughter to model mother, Kassandra Thomas, and Philip Michael Thomas, an 80’s TV icon known for his role as ‘Ricardo Tubbs’ in “Miami Vice” and Broadway’s Hair, has been making serious strides across the country as she recently headlined at Kentucky’s first-ever country music and bourbon festival, Hometown Rising.

But what sets this country star apart from the rest, is her disinterest in becoming a public figure, and passion for spreading peace and love to her fans.

(L) IMAJ and Grit Daily’s Andrew Rossow (R)

Grit Daily spoke with IMAJ immediately after her live performance at Hometown Rising.

Grit Daily: You just finished your performance here at Hometown Rising. What was going through your head while you were on stage?

IMAJ: While I was on stage, it was all about the audience and making them feel something. It’s not about me. It never is. I want the audience to feel something—to feel good.

GD: You don’t see anyone like that anymore while they perform—where the artist really feels what they are singing.

IMAJ: I try never to lose sight of that. The whole reason for me becoming a singer period, is first, I love music, but I feel like we are all here to make a difference, no matter what we do—whether you’re singing or a journalist or cleaning up a bathroom. Everyone touches someone in some way and a lot of times you don’t really know it. That’s the number one thing for me during our temporary time on this planet.

GD: Let’s talk about family support. You have music and entertainment in your blood. How did that play into you following in your parent’s footsteps?

IMAJ: I’ve wanted to sing forever. As you know, my father was a well-known figure on Broadway and on television. I remember him waking up every morning to play the piano while I sat on his lap. However, initially, my mom didn’t want me in Hollywood, simply because of what my dad went through—e.g. autographs and the paparazzi.

GD: Did your Mom have another vision for you?

IMAJ: At the time, she did. I was a straight-A student, so she would’ve preferred that I would have studied to become a doctor or lawyer. But for some reason, it pulled at my heart.

GD: We loved your premiere of “American Outlaw” at Hometown Rising. Tell us about it.

IMAJ: Hometown Rising was the first time we played it live. It’s so weird how music comes to you. For me, it starts with emotion—that’s one of those things. Something put me in the mood where I started thinking about my ancestors and what they went through to become part of this country. I also thought about how people romanticized outlaws as these men with guns, but a true outlaw is ostracized in one way—nobody wants to be around them or associated with them in any sort of way. And that’s what my ancestors went through—but in this case, it was a woman.

Taking it to The Old Town Road with Billy Ray Cyrus

IMAJ recently performed on Dallas’ Fox 4 News ahead of her headlining performance at the 2019 State Fair of Texas.

A warm embrace between Billy Ray Cyrus and IMAJ | Source: IMAJ

Her next big show was at the State Fair of Texas, opening for Billy Ray Cyrus.

GD: You were back performing at The State Fair of Texas again this year. Describe your experience.

IMAJ: The state fair of Texas was amazing. I’ve been lucky enough to have performed on the Chevrolet main stage before, but this year was a whole new experience.

This year I’m a Westone-endorsed country artist and the sound coming from the in-ears they provided was so clear. I could hear every texture in my voice and because of that I was able to be even more playful with my band and audience than usual – if you can imagine that.

(L) Billy Ray Cyrus and IMAJ (R) | Source: IMAJ

GD: Let’s talk about some of the songs you performed.

IMAJ: I was especially excited to premiere some of the original songs that will be on my next album and the audience totally rocked out to them! One of my favorite parts getting wildly theatrical with “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” a song that really showed off my beyond-talented fiddle player, Brittany Peterson.

GD: You performed 2 MAJOR HITS with Billy Ray, spill the beans!

IMAJ: I had the time of my life with Billy. He has such a kind heart to encourage me to take the stage with him. He reminds me so much of my dad.

There’s an old video of my dad and I that I posted for Father’s Day this year.

In the video my dad says, “She’s the star of the future.” So, it gave me more of a sentimental feeling than anything, when Billy told me I was a star backstage then professed it to the audience when we finally took the stage together.

I was so at home bouncing around with him singing his super-hits “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Old Town Road.”

I mean honestly, if you watch the videos on my Instagram or Facebook, you’ll see Billy already said it all that night on stage. 

The State Fair of Texas this year was just magical, and I was so blessed to have an amazing band to take the stage with. A special thank you to our very determined production manager (and bass player), Lance Dierker, for all the awesome work he put into our touring in-ear monitor and to our wonderful band leader, Darrell Wilson, for always herding us together, including Little Bo Peep (me).”

Andrew "Drew" Rossow is a former contract editor at Grit Daily.

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