In late August, former White Sox slugger and Las Vegas resident Frank Thomas retired his No. 35 during a ceremony at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, paying tribute to a 16-season career in the Windy City.
Behind him, a bubbly pop girl trio belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the Yankees-Sox game began. What the crowd didn’t know is that Thomas brought this group, BelleVoxx, with him from Las Vegas. While this ceremony was an end to one career, it was the beginning of another.
“They’re the hottest act in America to me,” says Thomas. “They got the looks. They got the moves. They got the vocals. They got it all.”
Of course, as the band’s producer, Thomas, 42, is biased. He’s the founder and CEO of W2W Records, which stands for Will to Win, and is located in Las Vegas. Thomas, who is a future Hall of Famer, moved here in 2002 when he was still playing for the White Sox. He spent the off-season enjoying the warmth of the desert.
In 2006, his Henderson home remained a temperate home base when he played for Oakland and, later, Toronto. Now that he’s retired from baseball, he’s found that the town is a great place to explore his love of music, and he’s banking on BelleVoxx to be the Next Big Thing.
Thomas assembled the band, which consists of twentysomethings Denisse Lara (winner of the Latin version of Star Search and the voice of Melody in Disney’s Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea for the Spanish market), Harmony Moniz (who is a performer and print model) and Raquel Houghton (who’s known for both her appearance on American Idol Season Eight, and as the former girlfriend of comedian Dane Cook), about four months ago. Its first single, “Looking for Love,” will be released on iTunes on Oct. 12.
While BelleVoxx is a new venture for Thomas, he and the recording studio are old friends. He became involved with the music world 14 years ago, when his cousin formed a rap group in Atlanta. The cousin asked Thomas to help produce tracks and finance the group.
“Ever since then I was hooked,” Thomas says, adding that he’s drawn to pop, R&B and hip-hop. Other acts on his label include hip-hop artists Cardan and Swerv, and R&B singer Bonnie Marie.
Throughout his baseball career, music remained a hobby and occasional business venture. But for the most part, he kept his focus on the game. That focus and dedication is how the 6-foot-5 designated hitter became a five-time All-Star. He’s No. 18 on the all-time home-run list, with 521, along with 1,701 RBIs and a .301 career batting average.
Thomas draws a parallel between baseball and music, saying that in both, you learn where your talents lie and act accordingly.
“You have to know the different level that you’re at. You know if you’re a pro baseball player or you’re a minor league player, or you know that you’re a college player,” he says. “I mean, it’s the same thing with the artists. You know if you’re a local band or you’re a world-traveling band or you’re a superstar. That’s just the way it is.”
As for BelleVoxx? As far as Thomas is concerned, there’s no question. They’re superstars.