Theo Tams

Official Site
MapleMusic Newsletter
Sign up to keep informed of MapleMusic happenings

Theo Tams

When asked about the title of his debut album Give It All Away, the singer-pianist from Coaldale, Alberta Theo Tams admits “In a way I feel that's what I've done with this record.” The 2008 Canadian Idol Winner is not following the standard Idol formula in releasing his debut album. With a musical background, previous writing experience and a strong desire to put out an album he was truly proud of, Theo was given the gift of time to be more involved in the process to create a debut that truly reflects him as an artist rather than rushing the process. “I wanted to find and write songs that I could be confident with and encapsulated all I wanted to say on my first record, not only lyrically, but stylistically as well” and that’s what he’s done on Give It All Away set for release on Sony Music Canada Entertainment Inc. on May, 19th 2009. “The most important thing I wanted to achieve with this album was to be true to myself because that’s what music is all about.”

Interested in music from a young age the self-taught piano player admits “I never thought music could be a career until high school when a few very inspirational teachers taught me that I could pursue music for a lifetime. After high school Theo went on to study music at the University of Lethbridge where he was doing a double major in Psychology and Classical Music. With a constant thirst to further his musical abilities, Theo claims “I’m currently learning to play guitar and it’s also my goal to learn the cello.” In the late winter of 2008 Theo decided to try out for Idol out of conviction, “I just had a gut feeling that I should audition for Canadian Idol this season”. He jumped in his car and drove 2 hours from Lethbridge to Calgary where he anxiously awaited his turn. “My first audition was one of my favourite moments from the entire process, I was sweating like crazy but I didn’t care, I knew it was going to be the start of something great”.

And sure enough, week after week Theo blew audiences away with his soaring vocals and compelling performances. Even the judges couldn’t deny his talent; “You proved without a doubt you're probably the best male vocalist we've ever had on this show,” admitted Canadian Idol Judge Zack Werner. After taking the Canadian Idol title Theo remembers "I was so excited about a new beginning: to just get into the studio, be creative and really just step up and assume the role and maybe prove people wrong who have misconceptions about the show and about the winners. For me it's really important to just say we’re all musicians and we can be artistic, and we do have things to say and hopefully my album will accomplish that." The morning following Theo’s win his single ‘Sing’ was released and steadily climbed the radio charts and reached an outstanding #2 on the iTunes Singles Charts.

With a new strategy in place for the album, Theo was thrilled to have the opportunity of being more involved with the entire process and having previously tried his hand at songwriting he admits “I wanted to see if I was any good.” Collaborations began with some of Canada’s most credible songwriters including Hawksley Workman, Dahmnait Doyle, Simon Wilcox, Rob Wells and Greg Johnston to name only a few. “Writing for the album has been one of the hardest, but most satisfying things I’ve done, I was so fortunate to be able to work with such incredibly talented writers.” Another highlight for Theo was that one of his musical idols Sarah Slean co-wrote the song ‘Let Go’ (with Greg Johnston) for the album, a first for Sarah who’d previously never co-written for anyone before. “I’m so honored that Sarah Slean wrote a song for the album, I’m probably her biggest fan.”

Although Theo was given more time to write and record his debut, there was little chance he wasn’t also going to be continuously busy coming out of of the Idol season. Little did he know the whirlwind that was about to ensue. Along with countless songwriting sessions for the album, Theo also managed to co-pen his own Christmas song ‘Christmas Dream’ and record it, along with the Christmas Classic ‘Baby Please Come Home’ which was released to radio for the holiday season and became an itunes seasonal bestseller. Theo also began rehearsals to prepare for The Top 3 Tour, his first ever cross Canada Tour along with fellow Canadian Idol runner up Mitch McDonald and 2nd runner up Drew Wright and they performed to audiences from Coast to Coast (26 stops across the country.) “The Top 3 Tour was so amazing! Its always been my dream to tour and perform live and had no idea it would happen so soon!”

Theo also had the opportunity to play significant “Cause related” events including CTV’s ‘Me To We’ (nationally broadcast) Concert, a fundraiser for Free The Children where he felt honored to play alongside one of his all time favourite artists Sarah McLachlan. It was a moment he claims as one of his major career highlights to date. So moved by the charity Theo decided to donate all the net profits from the sales of ‘Christmas Dream’ to Free the Children because while music is his passion, Theo is dedicated to helping make positive change in the world where and whenever possible. In 2006, this drive led him to Kesinga, Orissa a small underdeveloped area in India where he worked in an orphanage for 6 months. “Since my time spent in India volunteering its been one of my priorities both as a human being and as an artist to help improve the lives of children both abroad and at home. I'm so thankful that I now have a larger platform to help create change.”

After touring and writing the next step was to begin the recording process for Give It All Away. Produced by accomplished writer, musician, producer Greg Johnston (credits - fuj), Theo reminisces “Greg was one of the first people I met in the ‘BIZZ’ and I knew instantly that we were a great fit, he’s able to reel me in when I get a bit nuts, I have the tendency to over-think things sometimes and he kept me on track. Our chemistry’s great.”

Sticking true to the style that earned him so many fans last summer, Theo wanted also, to stay true to the piano driven sound on his first single ‘Lazy Lovers’ which he co-wrote with Hawksley Workman and Greg Johnston. “I wanted to write a song that was bolder than just a love song or a breakup song, I was in a space where I wanted to encourage change and inspire confidence,” explains Theo about the meaning behind Lazy Lovers.

Other important tracks on the album for Theo include ‘When I Say Goodbye’, an emotional song about starting over as well as ‘I’m Gonna Say’ another co-write which he admits “is a completely different side of me. It’s funk with elements of Motown and Blues. It is a playful ‘come hither’ song,” Theo chuckles “It describes a passive way of getting someone’s attention.”

“I think the most important piece of advice I received so far is to trust my gut, be myself and to never compromise the things I truly believe in,” says Theo about the industry. “That‘s what I’ve done on Give It All Away and I hope my fans will enjoy it.”