Thomas was born in the Foote Homes Housing Project in Memphis. Along with her siblings, Marvell and Vaneese, she was one of three musical children of Rufus and Lorene Thomas. Despite growing up in the projects, the Thomas family lived near the Palace Theater on Beale Street, as Rufus was the theater’s emcee for their amateur shows. This access not only gave Thomas her first taste of the music world but it also provided a springboard for her transformation into the Queen of the Memphis Sound.
Carla Thomas holds the distinction of being the first artist to cut a record at the Stax Records studio at 926 E. McLemore Avenue. Well, one of the first. She actually recorded that first song with her famous father, Rufus Thomas, at the age of 17. The duet, “Cause I Love You,” became a regional hit and changed the course of music history forever. The record also got the attention of Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler, who leased the master and released the song on Atlantic’s subsidiary Atco Records label.
Carla Thomas today remains one of the most critically acclaimed icons of soul music, but rarely performs. She did perform at the 2003 Soul Comes Home concert during the Grand Opening of the Stax Museum and has made a few appearances since that time, but is, for the most part, retired save for occasional impromptu performances at clubs in Memphis.
On September 18, 2007, Concord Records released what many say is her finest album, Live at the Bohemian Caverns, recorded live in the prestigious Washington, D.C. jazz club in a performance arranged by then-Stax president Al Bell and soul legend Donny Hathaway. The album – which expanded Thomas’ roots from R&B into jazz and pop – was inexplicably shelved after it was recorded but is now being heard and appreciated by her fans and new generations of music lovers.
(Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & Staxmuseum.com)