"My father called me his creative son." Jonathan Thompson is talking about returning to Indianapolis after 25 years of "pursuing himself" in the larger world of music, theater and television across the United States and Germany and in London. Billed as "The Man With the Golden Horn," he opened for Al Green, Patti LaBelle, The Wynans. He appeared on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and with Jerry Van Dyke.
"The Man With the Golden Horn," Jonathan Thompson
He pursued ministerial studies and founded Lily of the Valley Christian Church, a multicultural ministry in Los Angeles.
"Separation is suicide to humanity. We creative people manifest the unseen and give hope. Our nature is prophetic.
"I like to call [those years] being an interpreter and giver of life," Thompson says. He shares clippings, programs and a brochure announcing "The Jonathan Thompson School of the Arts Academy."
"This is what I am now pursuing," he states. "Music was the first thing that captivated me." His rich voice grew with him, embracing gospel and choir music. He bonded with the saxophone. Public speaking captivated him and he in turn moved audiences. He was introduced to acting through Ophelia Wellington's Freetown Village, interpreting "Uncle Blue, an African American Mr. Rogers."
The eldest of seven children, Thompson talks of growing up in Brightwood. His father was a baggage carrier at Greyhound; his mother a homemaker and babysitter. "In the morning, you could wake up to the smells in the kitchen, us hugging Daddy before he left for work, and then us playing - the whole neighborhood was family - touch football in the streets, riding bicycles. My parents created an environment. There couldn't be a bad world where virtues and character were stressed. We were exposed to black and white movies. We put together plays. My family never had much. There was no money for piano lessons. So I had to make do."
Silence, before words tumble out about a music shop, the owner being moved by his mother's passion, wanting her son to have lessons, the man's reward coming with Thompson winning national awards. Specifics are not essential here.
"As a kid I was mentored by people who cared about you. So I developed into this person. So now, at age 40, I want to reach out and reach back. I've got dreams filled with faith. Faith will take you where money cannot. I don't have a lot of financial resources, but Indiana has a need for an arts academy that encourages and nourishes life-long arts learning.
"Mom and Dad were great storytellers. They told the story of family. I bring with me this wealth of my family and community. This has to be a community effort."
Thompson's enormous energy is fueling the concept, one step at a time. He's proving his ability as a teacher-mentor in Indianapolis Public Schools arts programs and with Young Audiences portraying Paul Robeson: A Man Who Overcame Adversity.
"My father is gone but I still have him as a catalyst," Thompson explains. "I have his sense of responsibility. We have to come together to pool wealth to allow all people to explore their creative potential."