Tony Thomas was born and raised in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Tennessee. He worked in the coal mines and never finished high school. Tony records folk musicians in rural areas in an effort to preserve the local culture. He is also a singer and a songwriter himself. Tony says he has written more than 200 songs and when he dies, they are all going to be popular.
“When something touches my life some way or has an impact, I usually write a song about it.”
I’m big on helping out with charity, especially when it comes to the elderly and children. I’m big into my church work at Mount Harmony Baptist Church. I like to help my fellow man in every way I can—through my music or whatever I can do to make life better for them. That’s what peace means to me. I feel like when I’m doing things for humanity, my father above smiles down on me for that. I feel like that’s why I was put here.
People from other parts of the country that have never been here would find people from Appalachia to be quite different. They might refer to them as backwoodsy or hillbillies, but if they ever got to know us, they would see us in a different light. It’s the most wonderful place on God’s green earth, as far as the beauty of it and the beauty of the people. If they ever tried us, they would love us. Good people here in these mountains is what I’m trying to say. I’ve lived other places and I can get along anywhere, but there’s something special about the people here in Appalachia. I think all parts of the world has a little Appalachia in it, if you go to thinking about it. There’s always people with a lot more good than bad when it boils down to it.
Tony played a few songs during our interview
Tony Thomas full podcast
- How has your childhood influenced your understanding of peace?
- Have you ever given because you felt like you had to? When have you given because you wanted to? Describe how those experiences were different.
- Do you think you’re a hard person to know? In what ways do you relate with other people?
- Tony says “There’s always people with a lot more good than bad when it boils down to it.” Do you find this to be true? For what other reasons might you think otherwise?
- Who is the most caring person you know? Why else do you admire them?