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Judge for Tom Goss

Washington, DC
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Portrait of Tom Goss
Tom Goss

Tom grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He spent his childhood in the gym with his gymnast parents and brothers, but switched to wresting in junior high—a better outlet for some serious teenage aggression—and stuck with it through college.

Music was another, more enduring passion. His mom bought him a guitar as a high-school graduation present, and he quickly taught himself to play. Inspired by Dave Matthews and David Gray, he soon started writing songs of his own.

Through it all, Tom felt a strong spiritual calling. While at the University of Central Missouri, studying to become a teacher, Tom decided that he was meant to be a priest instead. He moved to Washington, DC in 2004 to enter Catholic seminary. It didn’t go as planned and, disillusioned by the institution in which he had placed his faith, he chose to abandon religious training—but not his quest.

Back in secular life, Tom sought new ways to work toward social justice, the issue that had led him to the church in the first place. He took a job running a breakfast program for the homeless. He began to build a life with his partner Mike. And he channeled his message of love, hope and reconciliation through his music.

Don’t expect hymns. Tom offers up dynamic acoustic rock featuring muscular guitar, hooky melodies and a uniquely powerful voice. If the 26-year-old has any patron saints, they are Jack Johnson, Damien Rice, Ben Folds, and Joss Stone.

Since April 2006, when he released his self-produced debut, Naked Without, Tom has played scores of coffeehouses, bars, gay pride festivals and other events—honing his skills along the way. With the January 2008 release of his second CD, Rise, Tom demonstrates just how far he’s come. The six songs showcase his stylistic flexibility, from the urgent growl of “Morning Sun” to the sweet and unadorned “King of Something Right.”

Across Tom’s songs echo themes of rebirth and renewal, of love and loss and what lies beyond. It’s a playlist for anyone on a journey from darkness to light.

Tom just completed his first music video, for the title track on Rise. (Watch it at or