Larry Reni Thomas is a 30-year veteran writer/radio announcer based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who has worked at seven radio stations and whose journalistic work has appeared in downbeat and The New York Times Magazine.
Thomas was born in 1950 and reared in Wilmington, North Carolina. He began his professional journalistic career in 1978, while he was a history graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, when he assisted Wayne King with a New York Times Magazine article called “The Case Against the Wilmington Ten.” Since then he has written articles, reviews and previews in Downbeat, Jazz Line, The Spectator Magazine, The Urban Journal, The Carolina Times, The Daily Tar Heel,The Independent Weekly, The Wilmington Star News, The Wilmington Journal, Encore Magazine and Reggae Report. He has appeared on “The State of Things” with host Frank Stasio on WUNC-FM, Chapel Hill, NC and Metro Watch with host Gloria Minott on WPFW-FM, Washington, D.C. In 1982, while a jazz announcer at WDBS-FM in Durham, North Carolina, he wrote the liner notes for an album entitled “The Story Teller” by vocalist Bus Brown (Relate Records). Later that year, Thomas published The True Story Behind The Wilmington Ten (a revised edition was published by U.B. & U.S. Books, Hampton, Virginia, in the fall of 1993). His second book, Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit!: A Tale of the Wilmington Incident of February 1971 was published February 2006. Larry is currently working on an historical study of The Barn: Wilmington, North Carolina’s Jazz Mecca (1941—1945). He is also the author of “The Lady Who Shot Lee Morgan,” an exclusive critically-acclaimed article posted on his blog, carolinajazzconnectionwithlarrythomas.blogspot.com,
as well as websites like Women in Jazz South Florida, The Listening Group of D.C. and the Dutch-based keepswinging.blogspot.com. Thomas has also presented his informative historical lecture–The Carolina Jazz Connection with Larry Reni Thomas–at universities, colleges, schools, and public places since 2008.
Thomas is the founder and project director of Larry Thomas & Associates, Inc., a volunteer, non-profit, tax-exempt, cultural arts organization, dedicated to the jazz and Caribbean cultures. The primary purpose is to elevate the cultural awareness of the community by propagating, promoting and presenting these two vital, vibrant art forms to the public. Larry was also an active member of the now defunct IAJE, (The International Association for Jazz Education), served on the board of directors of the North Carolina Jazz Network and the Triangle Jazz Society.
Thomas has a M.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has done further study at UNC’s graduate school of Journalism. He was a jazz announcer with WHQR-FM, Wilmington, North Carolina, from 1984-1994; station manager of WWIL-AM (1990); an evening jazz announcer, interim station manager, program director and producer for WNCU-FM, Durham, North Carolina from 1995 to 2003 and a jazz announcer at WXYC-FM, WXDU-FM and WCOM-FM. Larry also taught History at Shaw University Cape (1989-94) in Wilmington and Durham, North Carolina, and at Omuteko Gwamaziima, an African-centered charter school in Durham. His interests are writing, reading, traveling, jogging and music. His wife, Candace, is a fiber artist, whose work, “Moonchild” (an abstract portrait of the late jazz pianist/composer Brother Yusuf Salim) appeared as a part of Textural Rhythms: Constructing the Jazz Tradition, Contemporary African-American Quilts, at the American Folk Art Museum, New York City in 2009