Although best known worldwide for her 1980s Hi-NRG club hits, Thomas recorded and performed in disco, jazz, and gospel music styles for a decade before her successful stint in the 1980s. Discovered by British producer Ian Levine, who was in the US in 1975 scouting for gospel and soul singers he could promote in the UK, the two recorded several tracks which resulted in a contract with 20th Century Records. Evelyn Thomas scored a chart hit with her first single, reaching the UK Top 30 in 1976 with the single "Weak Spot," co-written by Levine and Paul David Wilson . A follow-up single, "Doomsday", entered the UK charts twice but each time floundered in the lower reaches, and sticky contract issues complicated her newfound success, though Levine and Thomas would continue their association for quite some time. She signed to US label Casablanca Records for her first album release I Wanna Make It On My Own
, released 1978. With Casablanca doing little to promote the LP, she switched to AVI Records for the double A-side 12" single "Have a Little Faith in Me" / "No Time to Turn Around" which prompted the label to release it as an LP, backed with Rick Gianatos' extended remixes of her 1976 tracks "My Head's in the Stars" and "Love's Not Just an Illusion". For a follow-up, Evelyn Thomas re-recorded three tracks from an aborted project by Levine's group Moonstone, "Love in the First Degree", "Summer on the Beach" and "Sleaze" (originally entitled "Out of the Ball Game") but with the disco backlash in the US, the tracks were left unreleased.
Although disco music had been declared "dead" in the US in a backlash in 1979, several songs which continued and advanced the exuberant surge of uptempo dance music managed to scale the US pop charts in the intervening years, notably Blondie's "Call Me" in 1980, Laura Branigan's "Gloria" in 1982, and Irene Cara's "Flashdance (What A Feeling)" in 1983. Unwilling to use the term "disco", the phrase "high energy" had come into usage, probably begun in England in the early 1980s. By 1984 Ian Levine had re-established himself as a producer and asked Evelyn Thomas to come to London to record a new track "High Energy". Just few weeks after it was released, it zoomed up the charts all over Europe - peaking at No. 1 in Germany and No. 5 in the UK, selling a total of 7,000,000 copies worldwide. In the US it hit No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, selling 250,000 copies. The song was her only Billboard Hot 100 entry, peaking at #85, although three additional songs hit the Billboard dance chart. By 1984, the phrase had become embraced as a term by DJs across Europe and in the States, particularly in gay clubs where DJs who preferred to play records that surpassed a certain BPM (Beats Per Minute) threshold found many mainstream hits lagging in tempo. Evolving around that time to the abbreviated "Hi-Energy," the term soon became further shortened to "Hi-NRG", and was still widely in use more than two decades later to describe a certain genre of uptempo dance music.
The follow-up single "Masquerade" was taken from her third album High Energy
, released the same year. While it received heavy rotation in European clubs, it failed to break into the UK Top 40. In the US the song was a top-twenty Dance hit. The following year, "Heartless" became her only single other than "High Energy" to chart outside of the Club/Dance charts in the United States. "Heartless" peaked at #84 on the Black Singles chart (later renamed the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart) in 1985.Though she would not return to the US pop or R&B charts, US dancefloors continued to move to the fast beat of Evelyn Thomas. With a cover of the Supremes' 1967 hit "Reflections", updated in her Hi-NRG style, Thomas peaked at #18 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1986, the same year in which Kim Wilde had a similarly styled hit with the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On". A second Thomas release that summer fared even better on those charts, as "How Many Hearts" narrowly missed the top 10. The two songs would later appear on Thomas' fourth album release, Standing at the Crossroads
, in 1987. In late 1987, the single "No Win Situation" shot to #1 on the now defunct UK Hi-NRG chart. After the singles "Only Once in a Lifetime" (1988) and "This Is Madness" (1989), both on Levine's Nightmare Records label, Thomas withdrew from the music business.In spring 1997, Redemption featuring Evelyn Thomas had a minor US club hit with the track "Tell The World".
Comeback in the 2000s
A new remix of her largest hit was released in 2004 as "High Energy 2004" and became a worldwide gay club hit. The remix was released on Dance Street/ZYX Records out of Germany in early 2005. The remix secured moderate radio and club play Stateside. This song was then ripped off by Daz Sampson in 2005 who tried to get it released in the UK before the Germans could release their remix.In May 2008, Evelyn Thomas took part in the major RTL Disco Tour, performing in 15 cities throughout France. While in Europe, Thomas completed several new recordings in different countries with the aim of making a comeback. She has teamed up with Ian Levine for the first time in 20 years, recording the tracks "Pounding the Pavement", "One in a Million" and "I Can't Give You the World". She has recorded four tracks, "Stick to the Plan", "Missing the Target", "Infidelity" and the ballad "Why Must the Sunrise" for a diva album called The Plan
for Night Dance Records, produced by Scandinavian songwriter Soren Jensen in collaboration with Clive Scott, formerly of Jigsaw. Thomas has also teamed up with French team Evolusound for a single release, "Prove It", written and produced by Frank Savannah and remixed by Laurent Schark.In 2009, Thomas released a duet with Carol Jiani, "Are You Man Enough", produced by the Australian team of Peter Wilson and Chris Richards aka T1 Productions.