Multi-platinum songwriter Theron Thomas had an experience of a lifetime winning his first Grammy as a songwriter for pop star Lizzo on her hit “About Damn Time.”
Thomas, a William Blair wealth client, had earned seven Grammy nominations for 2022, including Best Melodic Rap Performance with Latto’s hit record “Big Energy” but it was “About Damn Time” that won Record of the Year.
“Record of the Year is one of the biggest awards you can win in the Grammys, so bringing home Record of the Year was just a blessing and meant a lot to me and my family,” said Thomas, who was among a team of songwriters that collaborated on the song.
“About Damn Time,” an upbeat disco-inspired track, is a reflection on life’s struggles and encourages healing, moving forward, and celebrating. It was the last song written for Lizzo’s Special album, which was three years in the making. “About Damn Time” took the longest to write, Thomas said, with the team working on it over four months.
Turn up the music, turn down the lights
I got a feelin' I'm gon' be alright
Okay (Okay), alright
It's about damn time (Time)
Turn up the music, let's celebrate (Alright)
I got a feelin' I'm gon' be okay
Okay (Okay), alright
It's about damn time
At the time, Ricky Reed, a song writer and Lizzo’s producer, reached out to Thomas about getting involved. He would meet in Los Angeles with Reed, Lizzo, and others collaborating on the song until they figured it out.
The song was released in April 2022, and by July “About Damn Time” was No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
“We switched the song a million times,” he said. “This verse is bad, this verse is good, this shouldn’t be the hook, this is the bridge. We tried everything we could think of until we picked the best version. I guess we picked the right one.”
Thomas’s road to success began more than two decades ago when he and his brother, Timothy Thomas, moved to Miami from the U.S. Virgin Islands shortly after high school to pursue their dreams of becoming recording stars. The rap duo, R. City, were performers in the Caribbean but came from humble beginnings. They spent months trying to get gigs in Miami, lived with friends, and worked at local retail stores to make enough income to keep going. They were offered $250 to perform at a show in Atlanta in 2001, moved there, and have been in Atlanta since.
Thomas said his introduction to the music business came in 2007, when the two brothers had a breakthrough hit with “The Rain,” which was featured on Akon’s platinum-selling Konvicted album. Thomas’s best friend, a DJ for Akon, introduced them.
“He got one of our songs that I wrote in the seventh grade to Akon. He wanted to use it and asked to publish it. That door opened and it just never closed.”
One of the Most Prolific Pop Songwriters
Today, Thomas is one of the most prolific pop and hip-hop songwriters in the music industry. In addition to his work with R. City, he has crafted hits for multiple artists—Beyoncé, Rihanna, Usher, Lizzo, Miley Cyrus, Harry Stiles, The Pussycat Dolls, Adam Levine, and the list goes on.
“I love what I do. I love being able to provide for my family and giving my kids a life I didn’t have, showing them things, and giving them new experiences means everything to me,” Thomas said.
William Blair wealth advisor Rob Rumley with the firm’s Atlanta office met Thomas in his early years when R. City was performing around the city at talent shows. Over time they built a relationship, and when the duo got one of their first publishing checks they came to Rumley.
“This feels like the beginning since this is Theron’s first major award, but it’s the culmination of a few guys betting on each other,” Rumley said. “It feels like a team win.”
While Thomas had been nominated for Grammys previously, this was the first time he and his wife attended the star-studded event. They typically avoid the Hollywood glitz but felt this year was the right time to attend.
He shared a story of how his dad, who passed away a couple of years ago, would always encourage him and his brother to pursue their dreams of making it big in the music business. Thomas can remember his dad saying: “‘when you grow up, you’re all going to win Grammys.’”
“My dad wasn’t here to see it, which I wish he was, but brought one home and the big Record of Year. We won big and I’m super grateful.”