It might appear cliché, but the only true constant is change. A real artist never changes their passion, but constantly evolves their craft. Each step in their progression towards success is another path towards perfection. Even still, a real artist understands that perfection is an enigma that can be felt but cannot be touched.
Tommy Renfro began his singing career, in the church, at the age of 12. Raised in the corn fields of western Ohio, he grew up the son of school teachers in a town that has two stop lights and a population of 850. In high school, Tommy was an All-American boy. He was a National Honor Society student, Student Council member, and a three sport athlete (Basketball, Baseball, and Golf), but through all of this, music became his passion.
That passion for music led Tommy to form a Christian rock group in his teens known throughout the Midwestern United States as Tidal Wave. Tidal Wave actively toured throughout Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky from 1999 to 2003. Throughout this time, Tommy began to develop his songwriting, stage performance, and musicianship.
In 2003, the members of Tidal Wave grew up and went on their separate respective paths. This left Tommy to rediscover his musical roots in country and gospel music. In 2003 Tommy began a seven year immersion into Southern Gospel music. During his time in the Southern Gospel world, he had the opportunity to develop friendships and create touring events with Southern Gospel megastars such as The Martins, The Browders, The Bowlings, His Song, and The Blackwood Brothers. Even still, Tommy’s writing style didn’t seem to fit into the Southern Gospel box. Granted, it was soulful and oozed with southern roots, there was an aspect of gospel, hints of bluegrass, undertones of pop, and lyrics that stirred the soul – but it just wasn’t real Southern Gospel.
In 2010, Tommy began seeking out ways to mix all of his musical influences into a unique sound. After building relationships with industry pros across the Midwest and Southeast it was time to begin production. Fellow artist and personal friend Jimmy Dooley (Cincinnati, OH) got the call to spearhead the production team for this hip new sound that combines the hooks of country stars like Keith Urban with the likes of contemporary artist such as Mercy Me.
Dooley pulled in his friend Adam Kohout at AK Studios in Richmond, VA to work on keyboard production and hit a homerun with Grammy award winning (Jason Crabb, 2009) musician Jeremy Medkiff (Nashville, TN) on guitars and bass. This star-studded cast built a sound that was tailored around Renfro’s passions: Music, faith, hope, and love.
The industry buzz created by this fresh new sound enticed the music world to start knocking on the door. The knock that changed Renfro’s music career came from Nashville, TN based label Mission House Music. In January of 2011 a partnership was reached with MHM’s radio company Air 9 Promotions; which distributed his debut single “The Light”. After positive feedback from this release, MHM decided to take Renfro in as an off-roster artist to produce a new single centered on the suggestions from radio stations and fans across the country.
The label directed Tommy to work with a production group in Nashville known as The Zods. This team included former members of Contemporary mega-group Sonic Flood. After a few months of production at Zodlounge Studios in Nashville, TN, the team at Air 9 Promotions distributed Tommy’s sophomore single “Show and Tell”. This new single gave Renfro his first points on the Billboard charts and birthed the signing of Tommy to LifeStage Records in December of 2011.
Tommy spent two years under the Mission House Music label before the company started to sink in 2013. Nevertheless, the opportunities that MHM gave Tommy allowed him to share stages with artist such as Jamie Grace, The City Harmonic, Sanctus Real, Petra, Adam Cappa, and TobyMac between 2012 and 2014. It was during one of those tour dates that Tommy’s childhood musical hero, TobyMac, gave him the following advice:
"Understand that this journey is not about your ability, but God's grace. Be willing to take advice and assemble talented, Godly, and driven people around you who believe in the message you are trying to portray."
Those words echo true in Tommy's career. God is continuing to open huge doors in Christian and secular venues alike. 2016 appears to have a bright horizon and the constant of change is pushing in the right direction.