Gospel music fans affectionately referred to Minister Thomas Whitfield as “The Maestro” because of his reputation as a consummate composer, musician, singer, and producer. Over the years, his training in classical music and in traditional gospel coupled with his love for jazz and R&B resulted in the unique “Whitfield Sound.”
Whitfield was born in Detroit, Michigan to Thomas and Jacqueline Whitfield. He was the oldest of five children. He took to music at a very early age and was inspired by his great-grandmother to take piano lessons at the age of five and would advance to playing the organ by the age of ten.
After graduating from Detroit’s Central High School, he attended the Detroit Conservatory of Music and ended up sharing his expertise and knowledge as a music instructor at Finney High School.
In 1977, Whitfield, along with his good friend Tyrone Hemphill, felt led in establishing The Thomas Whitfield Company (The Whitfield Company for short); a local music ministry featuring some of Detroit’s finest singers and musicians.
Whitfield recorded his first live recording session (a popular trend in modern gospel music) with the Company at the St. Paul Church of God In Christ in Detroit. The album was finally released in 1983.
Whitfield began a line of notable achievements in producing for both established and fresh talent. In 1984, Whitfield produced the historic debut project Peace Be Still, for a virtually unknown singer at the time by the name of Vanessa Bell Armstrong; earning him his first of three GRAMMY nominations. That year, he also wrote “Time To Come Back Home” for Shirley Caesar’s GRAMMY and Dove Award-winning “Sailin” album.
During Whitfield’s final years with Sound of Gospel, Whitfield discovered Texas native Yolanda Adams and produced her first project Just As I Am for the Detroit label in 1988 which skyrocketed up Billboard’s Gospel charts. Whitfield died on June 21, 1992, from a heart attack.