Chris Thomas King was born on October 14, 1964, in Baton Rouge, La. His father, Tabby Thomas, was a locally prominent bluesman, and his influence started King early toward his musical future. By sixth grade, King was learning to play the trumpet and later traveled as a rhythm guitar player of famous musicians like Lowell Folsom and Joe Tex. As he matured in the musical setting of New Orleans area blues culture, King was encouraged to experiment and develop his own style.
In 1989, King signed a major recording contract with Warner Brothers Records and headlined a national tour to support the release of his greatly anticipated follow-up Cry of the Prophets, making his national television debut on The David Letterman Show. Following its release, he began embarking on bold artistic directions of his own, inviting controversy and debate among blues purists. He was the first bluesman to embrace the digital music revolution and the first to introduce hip-hop, sampling and deejay-distorted electronica into the genre.
Branded as a rebel, King was banned from blues festivals across the United States and fled to Denmark to cool his heels in Europe. While overseas, he recorded and released the critically acclaimed hip-hop blues album 21st Century Blues from da hood. Upon returning to the United States in 1995, he started his own independent production company and record label, 21st Century Blues. Soon after he found success as a film composer and actor, winning three GRAMMY awards by 2003 and several Country Music Association Awards.
King's major acting debut in the Coen brothers' film O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2001 transcended blues and gained him an international mainstream audience. Of the songs on the movie's GRAMMY-winning soundtrack, King's "Hard Time Killing Floor Blues" was one of the few recorded live during filming. The soundtrack reached #1 on the Billboard charts and has since sold 10 million copies. King’s performance and the onscreen field recording by legendary producer T-Bone Burnett is perhaps the most famous blues performance of all time.
In 2004, King co-starred in the Oscar winning movie Ray about the life and times of the legendary Ray Charles with whom King recorded the score for the soundtrack, which went on to win several GRAMMYs and an Oscar. In 2006, following Katrina, which destroyed King’s New Orleans home, he wrote and recorded his most personal album to date titled Rise. His latest album, Bona Fide, was released in 2012.