Joe graduated from Opelika High School and continued to sing and write music while working at occasional temporary jobs. Finally, he traveled to New Jersey, hoping to make connections in the music industry. While working at a gospel record store and continuing his music education through a local church, he met producer Vincent Herbert and recorded a three-song demo tape. He signed to Mercury Records in 1992 and released his debut album, Everything the next year. This album produced a minor hit, "I'm In Luv", for him and he was subsequently released from his contract. Joe also had a song called "All the Things (Your Man Won't Do)" that appeared on the soundtrack to the Wayans Brothers film Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Joe then signed to Jive Records for his 1997 album, All That I Am. This proved to be his breakthrough album, reaching #13 on the Billboard 200 chart, and number 4 on the US Billboard R&B chart. Another hit single from the album "Don't Wanna Be a Player", was also featured on the Booty Call soundtrack. All That I Am eventually went platinum in the US. Joe remixed a duet by Barry White and Tina Turner called "Never in Your Wildest Dreams" and wrote and produced on albums by Ideal, Xscape and Hi-Five in the 1990s. Joe also sang on the remix of Big Punisher's "Still Not a Player", produced by Knobody, which interpolated Joe's "Don't Wanna Be a Player". Joe sang the background vocals on Brandy's track "Angel in Disguise" on her second album, Never Say Never.
2000–2007: Rise to success
In April 2000, Joe released his third album, My Name Is Joe. Produced by Joe and several other record producers including Allen "Allstar" Gordon, Teddy Riley and Tim & Bob, it received favorable reviews from critics. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 and topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It charted internationally as well, peaking within the top 10 in Netherlands and Canada as well as appearing in Australia, France, Sweden, and the UK. My Name Is Joe contained three singles — "I Wanna Know", "Treat Her Like a Lady", and "Stutter" — the first and last of which appeared within the top five of the US Billboard Hot 100. The album has been certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), certified platinum by Music Canada, and certified silver by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP).
The following year, Better Days, Joe's fourth album was released. Significantly less successful, it reached number 32 on the Billboard 200 and number four on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. It featured two singles, including "Lets Stay Home Tonight", which reached number 18 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. A critical success, Better Days for a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, while "Let's Stay Home Tonight" was nominated for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. In 2002, Joe did another collaboration with Mariah Carey on the remix version of her first single "Through the Rain" from her album Charmbracelet.
Joe recruited high-profile guests for the And Then ... album released in late 2003. R. Kelly wrote the songs "More and More" and "Make You May Baby"- both of which were supposed to be on his Loveland album. G-Unit features on "Ride Wit U". The singles from the And Then ... album included the Top 20 R&B hit "More and More", "Ride Wit U", and "Priceless". A double A-sided single "More and More" and "Ride Wit U" made the Australian top 40 in July 2004, as well as #12 in the UK Singles Chart. And Then ... reached #26 on the US album chart and #4 on the R&B chart.
Joe's sixth album, Ain't Nothin' Like Me, was produced by Tim & Bob, The Underdogs, Cool & Dre, Bryan-Michael Cox, and Sean Garrett. The album featured guest appearances by Nas, Fabolous, Papoose, Young Buck and Tony Yayo; and was released on April 24, 2007. The first single was "Where You At", written by Sean Garrett featuring rapper Papoose. The video for the single was shot by music video director Billie Woodruff. He was confirmed as one of the judges on Making the Band. Joe performed a cover version of "Before He Cheats", a Carrie Underwood hit, as a Pepsi Smash exclusive on Yahoo! Music. He changed the lyrics to fit a male's perspective, and titled his version "Before I Cheat".
2008–present: Independent releases
Following his departure from Jive Records, Joe released his seventh album Joe Thomas, New Man independently on record label executive Kedar Massenburg's Kedar Entertainment company in September 2008. Production on the album was helmed by Bryan-Michael Cox, Stereotypes, MACK Mckinney and D'Mile among others. Upon release, it debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200, selling 56,733 copies in its first week. Lead single "E.R. (Emergency Room)" became the only single to reach the top forty on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Only ten months later, Signature, his second album with Kedar, was released. An album composed of ballads written, produced, and arranged by Joe, it debuted at number seven on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The same year, Joe released the holidays albums Home Is the Essence of Christmas and Make Sure You're Home for Christmas, the latter of which was released exclusively at Target.
In 2010, Joe collaborated with label mate Keith Sweat on "Test Drive", written for Sweat's Ridin' Solo album. Also in 2010, he released his ninth studio The Good, the Bad, the Sexy. It debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200 and number two on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop albums chart. Following a short hiatus, Joe's next effort, his tenth studio album Doubleback: Evolution of R&B, was released through Massenburg Media/RED Distribution in July 2013. It debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 and number one on the R&B/Hip Hop chart, selling 31,500 copies in its first week. His first release on Massenburg's newly formed company Massenburg Media after the dissolution of his Kedar Entertainment. The singer worked with a small group of musicians on the album, including San Francisco-based producer D.O.A., who contributed “I'd Rather Have a Love” and the duet “Love & Sex”. Singer Fantasia appears on the latter, while rapper Fat Joe recorded vocals for the remix of “I'd Rather Have a Love”. Rapper Too Short also appears on the album.
In March 2014, Joe signed a new deal with BMG Rights Management. His eleventh album, Bridges, marked his first album under his new label Plaid Takeover Entertainment after severing business ties with Massenburg. The first single released from the album was "Love & Sex Pt. 2", a duet with singer Kelly Rowland. The album debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 15,126 copies in the United States.
- Everything (1993)
- All That I Am (1997)
- My Name Is Joe (2000)
- Better Days (2001)
- And Then... (2003)
- Ain't Nothin' Like Me (2007)
- Joe Thomas, New Man (2008)
- Signature (2009)
- The Good, the Bad, the Sexy (2011)
- Doubleback: Evolution of R&B (2013)
- Bridges (2014)
- Greatest Hits (2008)
- S.O.U.L. (2012)
Awards and nominations
|Award||Year||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|BET Awards||2001||Best R&B Male Artist||Joe||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||2000||Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||"I Wanna Know"||Nominated|
|Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals||"Thank God I Found You"||Nominated|
|Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||"Coming Home"||Nominated|
|Best R&B Album||My Name Is Joe||Nominated|
|2002||Best Male R&B Vocal Performance||"Let's Stay Home Tonight"||Nominated|
|Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||"More Than a Woman"||Nominated|
|Best R&B Album||Better Days||Nominated|
|Image Awards||2001||Outstanding Music Album||My Name Is Joe||Nominated|
|Soul Train Awards||1999||Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video||"Still Not a Player"||Nominated|