Dyani Thomas Goes to Heaven
On Sunday, February 12, dyani Thomas became a victim of gun violence that claimed both her life and that of one of her close companions. She leaves behind two young children – an infant daughter and son.
Dyani Thomas was born to a Danish mother and Nigerian father in Denmark. Johnny Dyani was an influential bass player from South Africa who introduced Dyani to jazz musicians who called Northern Europe home.
Early Life and Education
Thomas was raised among multiracial jazz musicians residing in Northern Europe at a time when racism was strong in America. His stepfather Johnny Dyani, an esteemed South African bass player, helped expose Thomas to different styles of musical expression.
He advocated for expanding schooling among amaXhosa by writing to the Directors of the LMS in October 1845 to advocate for better resources and teacher recruitment in infant, secondary, and day schools (this was probably due to his mission education at Bethelsdorp and friendship with Van der Kemp’s assistant James Read Sr) (Levine 2011). James Read Sr’s influence may also have played an integral role here – co-existing both worlds with ease: Chieftancies of southern Africa as well as evangelical-humanitarian missionaries of LMS).
Thomas has collaborated with various artists, such as Paul Young of Soul 2Soul), Desere, Karen Wheeler and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Additionally, he toured with popular contemporary jazz band Incognito. Additionally, Thomas worked on multiple compositions and musician projects like playing keyboards for Eko Star 2002’s It Was An Accident album version as well as selecting tracks for Puma’s Soccer World Cup compilation CD “Calabash Volume 1: Afrobeat Poems.”
Dele grew up surrounded by an eclectic group of African expatriate musicians in Northern Europe, where black jazz players such as Dollar Brand, Archie Shepp, Kenny Drew and Dexter Gordon made their homes. His stepfather Johnny Dyani encouraged his young protege to be open-minded towards different musical genres and forms.
Achievement and Honors
Honorees were presented with New York State Senate Resolutions sponsored by Senator Martins that celebrated their achievements, giving them an opportunity to address the audience and acknowledge those who had helped along their path – from Kyle Johnson crediting his family with encouraging and pushing him, while Patrick LaRoque and Cameron Goulbourne thanked their mothers for believing in them and supporting their dreams.
Students selected for Thomas University’s Honors List achieved exceptional academic standing during the spring semester of 2021. Notable inclusions on this list included student athletes named to Academic All-Conference Teams as well as individuals in other disciplines – see here for full list.
Thomas was just getting her life together before it was taken from her on Sunday night by gun violence. At only 18 years old, Thomas leaves behind her two-year-old daughter and four-month old son whom we would like to use this Go Fund Me page to establish a trust fund so that their needs are taken care of in full.
Dyani Thomas was born in Copenhagen, Denmark to a Danish mother and Nigerian father. At seven years old he moved back with his mother to Copenhagen, meeting Johnny Dyani as his stepfather – and introduced to jazz music! Johnny introduced Dyani Thomas to an entire community of black jazz musicians living across Northern Europe at that time while racism still reigned supreme in the U.S.
Dyani was a multi-talented musician who excelled in multiple areas of the music world, from bass player, singer and composer to percussionist and percussionist. While she had tremendous success across genres of music, particularly jazz and world, she was best known for her jazz/world work and was estimated to be worth over $1 Million as of 2016.
Dyani recorded two albums for Steeplechase label with Max Waldron, featuring an incredible duet between bassists as well as some superb piano playing (an often under-rated aspect of her musicianship). This one is truly excellent.
This album, recorded in 1978, features Dudu Pukwana on alto sax, Peter Radise on tenor sax and Churchill Jolobe on drums. Song For Biko features some stunning psychedelic guitar work by Kenny Hakansson that truly makes this recording truly exceptional.