b. Chicago, U.S.A.
In 1996, Tommy was awarded a Grammy for Song of the year for writing 'Change The World,' which was produced by Babyface and performed by Eric Clapton.
Although he has written and produced songs for such major artists as Bruce Springsteen, Michael Bolton, Amy Grant, Wynonna Judd, BLACKstreet, CeCe Winans, The Neville Brothers and Garth Brooks, his album 'Peace And Love' contains some of the most interesting music Tommy has ever made.
Growing up in Chicago, Sims' household had more than its share of music aficionados.
His mom and two sisters were proficient singers, filling their home with their renditions of artists such as Dorothy Love Coates.
His mother's parents were devout Baptists and so Tommy was mostly primarily exposed to gospel tunes, except when his uncles came around and played secular music a la the Temptations and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.
It wasn't until Tommy was eight that his eyes were opened to other types of music.
First, he discovered local radio. Second, Sims' father, an avid record collector, re-entered Tommy's life, exposing him to both mainstream artists like Barry White and Otis Redding and more esoteric choices such as Jose Feliciano and Tony Orlando.
The two would sit around listening to selections late into the night. Sims realized, 'Music was in my blood. I was hooked.'
Soon after, his father remarried and Tommy's new stepbrother started taking bass lessons.
Tommy began to live vicariously through his brother until one day he grabbed the bass and started playing.
The instructor proclaimed him a natural at age 11.
From there, Tommy's cousin encouraged him with the gift of a beat up old Sears bass and six weeks of lessons.
Within a year he jumped to the six-string guitar, then to the piano and finally to the drums.
At 12 years old, Sims was writing songs. 'I think the first song I wrote, I just took the Commodores song, 'Sweet Love' and penned my own lyrics.'
At age 13, Sims moved to Michigan to be closer to his grandfather who had set up his own church.
By this time, Sims was solely interested in music and basketball - life choices that were in direct opposition to his mother, his grandparents and their church.
'I'll never forget one day I came home and the church had burned my entire record collection.
I never asked my mom if she had anything to do with it, but I retreated for a short time from everything religious.
The only thing I participated in was the church band because it was my only chance to play live.'
Sims studied music at Western Michigan College and the University of Michigan.
At that time, his goal was simply to get a job teaching music.
But after college, Sims couldn't shake the 'music bug' so he hooked up with some friends and began to travel, playing gigs in various cities.
One day he landed in Nashville where a friend lived. Here he played with several musicians and friends and even appeared on an album that was never released, all the while continuing to write songs.
Eventually people began to take notice and to want to use his lyrics. One friend, realizing Sims' moneymaking potential, signed him to his start-up publishing company.
Between 1990 and 1992, Sims commuted to Los Angeles where he wrote, produced and programmed songs for Don Gehman.
One day, Bruce Springsteen called the studio looking for Sims.
Springsteen had heard of Sims' growing musical reputation and wanted Tommy to jam with his band.
They played together for three days straight, after which Springsteen asked Sims to join him on tour.
Sims, then 32, has never looked back. 'I was always drawn to folk music because it's introspective, intellectual and thought-provoking. I got the greatest education from Springsteen. He captivated people's minds and spirit without stage props. He was a bonafide artist and communicator.'
Sims debut, 'Peace and Love', which he wrote and produced himself, exists as a sonic collage of Sims' musical life.
'My album is purely driven by human beings, no drum machines, no sequences. I've included songs that I've written over the past 15-20 years. My style is honest, down-to-earth, raw and true-to-life. I'm the voice of the regular people.'
On 'Which Way,' a song his aunt introduced him to when he was eight, Sims delivers the soul-searching tune with just his guitar and harmonica, sounding much like a male version of Tracy Chapman. (This is the only song on the album he did not write.)
'Write One This Way' is a bird's eye view into Sims' soul, 'A New Jam' exists as an ode to Marvin Gaye and Bobby Womack, and 'Summer' features Stevie Wonder, a musician Sims labels his 'musical father,' playing harmonica. 'I'm a fan of music,' states Sims.
'I will always be making music. With this album, I hope people know where I come from and what I'm about.'
Peace And Love (Universal Records 2000)