Speech Thomas


Speech Thomas



2x Grammy Award Winning founder and lead singer of the 4X PLATINUM hip-hop collective ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

Speech Topics Include:

  • Brave Leadership: Accomplish the Seemingly Impossible Under Any Circumstance

Known for consistently pushing the artistic and social envelope, Speech’s Brave Leadership keynote mixed with a musical performance makes for an EXPERIENCE.

With people feeling powerless and more overwhelmed than ever before, he inspires people to want to accomplish the extraordinary. He challenges participants to look around the room and realize that everyone has the potential to “do what they can with what they have and with the people around them.” At a time when companies are trying to encourage their employees to grow in every way possible, this powerful talk can be used as a springboard for fostering a new generation of brave leaders.

Brave leaders come about in all shapes and sizes, but most importantly with voices that find a way to be heard in a way that transforms others. Speech Thomas is a shining example of someone who broke the mold and boldly embraced a path that many would not take. Growing up in Milwaukee, one of the most statistically difficult places for black youth, Speech began “going against the grain,” allowing his challenges to fuel his positive impact. Speech focused on that spirit as he and his bandmates took Arrested Development from humble and rural beginnings in Georgia, to becoming a pioneering force in the music world. Pushing against all trends at the time, their vulnerable and uplifting song “Tennessee” became their first hit single as well as being awarded BEST RAP SONG  at the Grammys and was named one of the “500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Today, he uses that same spirit to help audiences understand how to carve their own path of Brave Leadership in business and life.

Speech was born Todd Thomas in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He grew up on two sides of life: the ghetto of Milwaukee (one of the nation’s roughest cities for African Americans) and (Wauwatosa) Milwaukee’s suburbia.  Speech learned how to draw from the pains and beauty of both. He would absorb the plights of his people and the retreat of a middle-class black boy in a primarily white neighborhood. He lost his grandmother to a heart attack and his older brother, Terrence Thomas to an Asthma attack within the same week, and through spirituality, he learned to recalibrate his inner anger through dynamic music. To celebrate the lives of those he lost, he coined his sound “life music.” Speech wrote the hit song “Tennessee” as a dedication to his grandmother and brother.

In the early nineties, Speech and his mother started the Terrence Thomas Scholarship and to date, the scholarship has raised over a million dollars helping young black students further their educations.

In 1995, the group disbanded, and Speech signed a solo record deal with EMI. His first single “Like Marvin Gaye Said” shot to #1 on the Japanese Tokyo 100 charts for 7 consecutive weeks. Speech has released 5 solo albums since, all of which have spawned Top 10 hit singles in Japan. His albums “1998 Hoopla” and “Spiritual People” (2000) were certified gold, while “Spiritual People” was awarded the Best black music album of the year 2000  by the acclaimed ADLIB magazine. Speech supported each album with sold-out tours.

Speech has also toured as a solo performer with the United States Vice President Al Gore, First Lady Hillary Clinton,  Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Youssou N’dour, James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic, Jason Mraz, Hootie & the Blowfish, and The Roots.

In 2020 Speech partnered with Resonant Pictures and Pipeline Entertainment to release the full-length documentary “16 Bars” where Speech goes into a maximum-security jail to write music with inmates. This stirring documentary has won numerous film festival awards and is now available through Lightyear Entertainment on streaming platforms worldwide. Speech continues to change lives through his keynotes and music.

Brave Leadership: Accomplish the Seemingly Impossible Under Any Circumstance

Speech Thomas will sing and perform throughout this keynote making it an experience like no other.

We’re living in very challenging times, which casts an even brighter spotlight on the fact that brave leaders are in high demand, but short in supply, and for many, the traditional leadership roles no longer even apply. Right now being a leader can be complicated, messy, uncomfortable and even dangerous, which is why so many people are questioning if they really have what it takes to succeed. Brave Leadership is a character trait that every individual can sharpen no matter their background or career path. That is the ultimate message in this keynote by Speech Thomas, who knows what it means to be a BRAVE Leader who inspires and accomplishes the extraordinary. By using a blend of storytelling, music and actionable strategies, he now travels the world to share the tale of how he rose to fame against all odds. By the time he is done, he has created an intimate experience which elevates every member in the audience to aspire to their personal next level of Brave Leadership.

BRAVE LEADERSHIP DEFINED: Bold, Resilient, Adaptable, Vulnerable and Encouraging

Through a unique combination of voice and song, Speech Thomas presents a keynote like no other. A gifted storyteller, his message is clear from the beginning: It’s not who you are that holds you back. It’s who you think you’re not.”  This talk is perfect for audiences who want to break free from the status quo and hear from someone who took an unlikely path to become an inspirational entrepreneur and philanthropist while reaching great heights as a Grammy Winner. This story resonates with participants as they soon realize that what Speech is telling them always applies, no matter the situation. “Do what you can with what you have and with the people around you.” Leaders always want to make a difference no matter what, and Speech shows how to create, innovate and enjoy groundbreaking success by being B.R.A.V.E (Bold, Resilient, Adaptable, Vulnerable, Encouraging)


  • The 5 qualities of B.R.A.V.E. Leadership for meaningful and measurable results.
  • How to create, innovate, and enjoy groundbreaking success as a leader by being B.R.A.V.E.
  • The new definition of a disruptor and how to embrace it to accomplish good.
  • How to harness the power of storytelling whether through voice or music to achieve great things.


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