Leon Thomas: From Nickelodeon Star To Grammys And SZA's 'Snooze'

March 31, 2024

Leon Thomas: From Nickelodeon Star To Grammys And SZA's 'Snooze'
Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Producer, singer and songwriter Leon Thomas is hotter than ever, and his critically acclaimed collaborations with artists including SZA and Ariana Grande have definitely made their mark on music. Though some may think he’s an overnight sensation, Thomas’ roots in the entertainment industry run deep. Here are five facts most don’t know about the Grammy award-winning artist.

He got his start on Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon fans may remember Thomas from Victorious, which he starred in alongside Grande and Victoria Justice, but Thomas actually made his kids TV debut on the Nick Jr.’s hit The Backyardigans. He provided the singing voice for Tyrone on the show. He’s continued to act throughout his career, making a memorable appearance in Issa Rae’s Insecure as Eddie, aka “Neighbor Bae.”

He’s behind some of Ariana Grande’s biggest hits

Thomas has collaborated with many artists in the industry, including Chris Brown, Zendaya, Jack Harlow, Meghan Trainor, Toni Braxton and Babyface, and prior to this past year or so, his work with Grande has arguably been the most fruitful. The former child star co-wrote and co-produced four tracks on the singer’s debut album, 2013’s Yours Truly, which was a massive success.

“I respect everybody who was involved in [Ariana’s first] project. To this day, we’re all very close and really look out for each other,” Thomas told The Hollywood Reporter.. “This industry’s almost like a high school — nobody’s going anywhere, which is dope — and it’s just really nice to see everybody evolve and grow.”

He co-produced SZA’s 2022 hit “Snooze”

Thomas’ latest triumph is his Grammy win for co-producing SZA’s smash hit “Snooze.” The song snagged the best R&B song category at the February ceremony.

“That melody that SZA wrote and those lyrics are just so poignant. I’m such a fan of how she wrote that record. I feel like it’s just such a strong song. It’s the kind of song that you could sing just on an acoustic guitar and it feels good,” he said.

He garnered his first Grammy nomination in 2020

Thomas received his first Grammy nomination back in 2020, for co-writing Rick Ross and Drake’s “Gold Roses.”

“Drake’s a cool guy, really laid-back, really funny, witty. I feel like sometimes we don’t get to see his personality as much because he doesn’t do a lot of interviews, but he’s a funny guy, man,” he said of working with the Canadian rapper, adding that “he was just very open when it came to a lot of my ideas, musically.”

Hes also a Broadway star

Thomas hasn’t only graced the small screen, he’s performed on stage as well. As a preteen, he appeared in several Broadway productions, including The Lion KingThe Color Purple and Caroline, or Change.

His Electric Dusk project is critically acclaimed

As we wrote in Blavity when recapping our favorite R&B/hip-hop projects of 2023:

Reflecting on the sometimes sordid, sometimes blissful nature of his experiences with love and the concept of power across the record, Thomas bathes in a tub of vulnerability as he explores ideas of disillusionment and the fruits of his labor in general. Soaking up all of his songwriting brilliance, Thomas paints a vivid picture of what Hollywood life has looked like for him over the years. Kind of reminiscent of an early Nostalgia Ultra iteration of Frank Ocean, Thomas’ voice is delightfully refreshing. Across the record, there is great nuance in song structure and versatility. It’s been a long time since something this sincere has been released. If this is Thomas’ debut, his sophomore effort will surely be beyond belief.

Blavity House Party Music Festival is coming!

The Blavity House Party Music Festival will feature performers from Leon Thomas, Lil Wayne, Monica, Victoria Monét, BLXST, Dru Hill, Ryan Leslie, Shenseea, Big Freedia and more.

The festival, taking place on June 14 and June 15 at the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, will also have a Black-owned marketplace, intimate dinners, VIP lounges, brand experiences, after-parties and exclusive merch.