Dallas resident Tom Grounds leads a double life, but it’s no secret.  For one, he has been a respected member of the Dallas business community since moving his outsourcing company there from Memphis in 1995.  As a Principal with Pariveda Solutions, a leader in The Business of IT® , Tom advises clients on their IT  projects.  Tom Grounds has been immersed in this work since the mid 1980’s. However if you launch an internet search for Tom Grounds, you’ll find many listings for a cabaret artist with the same name, including links to purchase CD’s at CDBaby and Amazon. Tom Grounds, recording artist and entertainer, and Tom Grounds, IT consultant, are the same guy.

Text Box: “...if you're a cabaret fiend, Grounds belongs in your collection alongside the work of Craig Carnelia..."


Tom Steele
OUT Magazine
Tom Grounds
Tom Steele - OUT Magazine Quote Image
Picture Credit: Shawn Northcutt

All Content © 2009 Tom Grounds

 

Long before Grounds became an IT professional, he became a working member of Actor’s Equity, making his professional singing debut as Friedrich in The Sound Of Music at Chicago’s Candlelight Dinner Playhouse at the age of 13. As Tom completed high school in Memphis, Tennessee, he won roles in many musicals, including West Side Story, Barnum, No No Nanette, and Fiddler On The Roof. Then he entered college as a music major, only to see his school throw out the curriculum. He switched his focus to computers and technology During this time Tom’s entrepreneurial spirit was born, and he developed a successful company( Austin, Thomas & Associates.) While he focused on growing his business, he curtailed his theater activities. But rather than give up performing completely in favor of a career in emerging technologies, Tom concentrated on concert work, choral singing, and recording jingles --activities that allowed him more manageable rehearsal schedules, and more advance notice. During this period, he made his debut as a soloist at Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall)  in 1987 with the Gary Beard Chorale, of which he was a member for 10 years. Other illustrious engagements included performances at the Spoleto Festival, Helena’s Warfield Concerts, and Opera Memphis.

 

Tom Grounds relocated his second business to Dallas in 1995, and he was soon cast in Forever Plaid at The WaterTower Theater. After two successful runs of Plaid a year apart, Tom decided to fashion a musical life that would fit around his other profession.  The art of cabaret seemed to be the right choice:  self-generating and personal, and a genre he adored. He discovered that Dallas had no tradition of cabaret, and although that left the field wide open for Grounds, he was dismayed to know that this eclectic, sophisticated and intimate art form was largely unrepresented in a major American city.  Tom Grounds debuted his first cabaret show in Dallas in 1999 at The Addison Theatre Centre. The show, What Was I Thinking?, was a humorous, touching and introspective autobiography.  Grounds used a contemporary American Songbook repertoire to share his personal experiences of growing up and maturing into adulthood. Songs by Craig Carnelia, Babbie Green, Kander and Ebb, and Wayne Moore, among others, gave Tom the vocabulary he needed to tap into universal themes and draw his audience right into the heart of the show: in other words, to have an emotionally interactive experience, where Tom Grounds, cabaret artist, communicates directly to his audience.

 

A verbal art form is natural for Tom, whose work as a consultant for Pariveda Solutions means that he is successfully communicating to other professionals what many of us would consider to be incomprehensible.  Grounds says, “I analyze risk and I teach project management. Another aspect of it, put simply, is that I teach people to better organize their chaos. I actually began learning those skills as a kid doing musicals. Between scheduling school, homework and professional duties such as learning lines, music and attending rehearsals, and thinking on my feet if something went wrong in a performance,  I learned early that I’m able to accomplish a lot, as long as I’m completely organized. I’m also in favor of having my cards on the table. My demeanor remains pretty consistent throughout all my activities, my personal beliefs are open to anyone who wants to know them, and people are confident that the person they meet is the person they’re going to have through the duration of our activity together.” Holding to his goal of “simplifying,” and relying on the high standards of integrity and truth he grew up with, he has revealed himself to his colleagues and cabaret audiences as a gay American. Tom came “out” at the age of 13, and told his parents he was gay when he was 16. So as an entertainer, Tom tells his stories with his “cards on the table.” He often makes songs gender specific, and has even worked with writers to tailor existing lyrics to his needs.  His themes deal with coming of age, learning, joy, love and loss. In other words, the very same themes all humans deal with every day.  Says Grounds, "I take whatever visibility I may have very seriously, in terms of being a role model for youth.  I think there’s a lot to be said for ‘leading by example.’ I’m a gay man, raised in the Bible belt with a strong faith and a loving family.  Neither of those things changed for me when I came out, and that doesn’t mean it was easy. But not all kids have those advantages, however, and there can be a lot of struggle, fear, and confusion. I’m here saying, ‘live truthfully, it’s easier. Conservative, flamboyant; people come in different packages. This is the package I’m in and it works, so if you’re struggling, maybe you can identify with me.’ “

 

In 2002, as Tom was preparing to record his first CD, a studio manager commented on how organized the project was. That comment led Grounds to form a record label called TAGLine Music with colleagues Linda Leonard and Ricky Pope. TOM GROUNDS: SOMETHING I WANTED YOU TO KNOW was their first project, which will be followed in 2007 by Grounds’ LOVE FOR SALE. The TAGLine mission statement ”…to bring the many talented Cabaret artists to life on CD…” and the results so far, provide a window into the strength of Tom’s original commitment to the genre. On SOMETHING I WANTED YOU TO KNOW, and the upcoming LOVE FOR SALE, Grounds “breaks the fourth wall.”  He provides a spoken through line from one song to another, a theatrical technique one will never hear on a pop or jazz studio recording.

 

LOVE FOR SALE is available now.  Grounds’ playlist this time around consists mainly of Great American Songbook classics with a couple of pieces by writers current to today’s cabaret scene, such as Shelly Markham, and Goldrich and Heisler.

Tom Grounds

Biography

 

Tom Grounds
Photo Credit: Shawn Northcutt