SEQUIM – Call it two for two when it comes to the Olympics last year.
Music by Sequim composer and musician Jennifer Thomas was played during a figure skating routine for U.S. competitor Karen Chen on Sunday at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. This follows the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer, when several gymnasts also used Thomas’ music for routines.
“It’s really exciting for me,” Thomas said. “It’s always such a great honor to have my music used on a global platform such as the Olympics.”
Chen made her Olympic team debut in the women’s team short program and placed fifth behind Clint Mansell. “Requiem for a Dream” which was arranged and performed by Thomas for his album “Illumination”. The women’s team won the silver medal for their efforts.
Thomas said she was watching the Olympics on TV when she heard Chen’s musical selection.
“I thought, ‘wait a minute, is that my music?'”
“And of course it was,” Thomas said. “It was a total surprise because, as far as I know, I didn’t expect to hear my music at the Olympics.”
In 2021, it was hoped that Thomas’ music would make the jump to the Olympics from the World Figure Skating Championships, where three skaters used his songs.
Japan’s Rika Kihira qualified for the Olympics and once skated to the song “The Fire Within” by Thomas and Kimberly StarKey, but Kihira had to pull out of the Olympics due to injury.
Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea, who competes in the Beijing Olympics, has skated to the same song for two seasons before, but he’s not using it this season, Thomas said.
She said there was a possibility that others would use her music at the Olympics, but she isn’t sure.
“Honestly, at this point, nothing shocks me anymore,” Thomas said.
“With the Summer and Winter Olympics, I didn’t think my music would be used, and both times it was and it’s not over yet. We still have weeks of competition left so you never know.
Chen skates again in the individual program on February 15 at 2 a.m. PST on the NBC lineup to the same song.
Thomas has seen a global increase in interest in her music, she said.
“Most of the time, these are the songs that are used in figure skating competitions around the world,” she said. “I’ve seen my streaming numbers go up as well, which is obviously a huge blessing for me too.”
Thomas said she usually doesn’t know when her music is going to be used. An exception was last year, when the Russian gymnastics team contacted it in advance to allow it to be used at the Summer Olympics.
“I usually find out with everyone,” Thomas said. “I follow figure skating though, and I usually know who’s using my music throughout the season.”
Chen was a surprise because she changed her music about a month ago for the US Nationals, Thomas said.
The royalties are complex, she said, and the money paid by the networks goes towards an overall public performance license fee. It is divided and paid in a small amount through its performing rights organization. It can take up to a year to get paid, she said.
Thomas sees himself as being paid for through worldwide exposure.
“Honestly, my joy comes from seeing it used in this beautiful, artistic way,” she said.
Being part of the Olympics is an honor, she said; it ticks off some bucket list items.
“I think now the only thing that could top that is to be invited to perform at the Olympics one day. I’m presenting it to the universe right now,” she said.
What awaits us?
More recently, Thomas contributed her song “The Adventurer” to the Epic Women’s album “The Shero’s Journey”, with more information on www.lnk.to/epicwomen_thesherosjourney.
Thomas’ music is on all major digital streaming platforms, available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes and www.jenniferthomasmusic.com.
She is currently working on a new album while filming a documentary series about her process. Fans can support his music/filmmaking at www.patreon.com/jenniferthomas.
Matthew Nash is a reporter for the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is made up of the Sound Publishing Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum newspapers. Join it at [email protected].