One night in suburban Detroit, a twelve-year-old Rosie Thomas lay sleepless in her bed, obsessively dwelling on what she perceived to be her lack of life purpose. Then, well after 2 AM, it suddenly hit her. She sprung out of bed and raced down the hall. “Daddy, Daddy, I know what my mission in life is,” Rosie exclaimed, poking her father. “I just want to entertain people.”
Fast forward to one decade later, recently transplanted to Seattle and frustrated with her decision to attend theater school, Rosie sat one night voicing her disappointment to new friend, singer-songwriter Damien Jurado, when he promptly turned to her and said, “Rosie, what do you want to do with your life?” Rosie thought for a minute. “I just want to entertain people,” she finally replied. Rosie ended up lending vocals to a track on Jurado’s album, Ghost of David. The folks at Sub Pop Records liked what they heard and offered to sign her. Five albums and a few years later, Rosie has certainly become an entertainer.
Rosie’s debut album, 2001’s When We Were Small, employed several friends from Cornish as studio musicians, and much of the cast from those sessions would return on the 2003 sophomore release, Only With Laughter Can You Win. If Songs Could Be Held came next in 2005, and was followed the subsequent year by Thomas’ inclusion on the Paper Bag Records compilation See You on the Moon! to which she contributed the song “Faith’s Silver Elephant.”
Rosie’s next project was a fresh return to the relaxed creative process that first drew her to entertaining through music. This meant a gathering of friends, collaborative creation, and, in the end, a sincere celebration of music and people called These Friends of Mine, issued in late 2006 through her own label, Sing-A-Long Records. The album includes the appearance of friends Sufjan Stevens, Damien Jurado, David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), and Denison Witmer. Thomas also released a 2008 Christmas album, A Very Rosie Christmas, through her label.
In addition to pursuing music, Rosie invented a comedic alter ego – the roller skating, lint-collecting pizza delivery girl known as Shelia Saputo. Thomas also acted in the film Calvin Marshall, along side Steve Zahn.
Rosie’s demonstrates her care for people and the friendships that originally drew her to music. Rosie explains, “When I woke my Dad up that night, even then I understood that you couldn’t be an entertainer unless you did it for the benefit of other people. That’s just a valuable lesson I have to keep reminding myself.” Well over a decade ago, a teenage Rosie knew that she wanted to be an entertainer, today, she has truly become one.