Tom Ghent The “h” Is Silent But Not The Man

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Submitted by Don Graham

Cover Photo Credit: Kelli King

Singer/songwriter Tom Ghent may not be a household name in a lot of homes but he is in mine. Tom Ghent almost has “six degrees of separation” status he’s been associated and connected with so many big name recording artists. Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Bare, Bobby Goldsboro, Nat Stuckey, Rita Coolidge, Steve Goodman  and Mickey Newbury to name a few.

We caught up with Tom at his home in Nashville, Tennessee to talk about how it all unfolded for him, how he started and what he’s up to now. “My Dad was from Montreal, part Iroquois, and the whole family moved to Rhode Island. I remember I was about 6 or 7 years old and my aunt, who was the lead guitarist in a country band, would get me up  with the band to sing ‘Your Cheating Heart’ or something like that with the band. She got me a guitar and started teaching me. I played it for awhile until it hurt my fingers too much so I stopped. But then in the late fifties there was the big folk revival and everybody was buying guitars and learning to play. Well I already had one so I got it out of the closet and started playing again. I went to California and hung around and came back and lived in the Village in New York where folk was really booming. A friend of mine was running a coffee house in the Village so I was in there singing my songs and in walks Shel Silverstein and a bunch of other folks, one of whom was Kris Kristofferson. Mind you this was 1968 and Kris isn’t well known yet. So I had a sung a song of mine ‘Whiskey Whiskey’ and Shel called me over and Kris said to me in that smokey voice of his “I liked that Whiskey song, you should come to Nashville. I’ll show you around.” So he called a couple times and finally I went down there on a Greyhound bus and went to Music Row where Kris was sitting in the Combine Music office and introduces me to Fred Foster and gets me to play Whiskey for him. Fred liked it and a couple weeks later it was cut by Nat Stuckey and shot up to number one on the charts.”

Songwriting is only one branch of the Tom Ghent tree. He is also an accomplished artist in his own right, a session guitar player  and background vocalist. His solo albums "Tom Ghent" on Tetragrammaton Records, "Yankee's Rebel Son" on Kapp/MCA Records, "All Strings Attached” on Sutherland Records. As a live performer he has a comfortable way of connecting with his audience and making them a part of every performance. His songs have been recorded by Kris Kristofferson, Gene Watson, Bobby Bare, Rita Coolidge, Bobby Goldsboro, Mama Cass, Michael Settle and dozens of others. “Whiskey Whiskey” is considered a standard. He has played lead guitar for Mickey Newbury, appeared as background vocalist on Joan Baez’ “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans.” His live performances have seen him in the coffeehouses of the Greenwich Village, to  the country honky tonks and the Folk Festivals in Philidelphia and Big Sur,  the Monterey Pop Festival, Willie Nelson Picnic, and the Hollywood Bowl.  He also sang the title song on the soundtrack album for the Mick Jagger movie "Ned Kelly". The  soundtrack also featured Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Mick Jagger himself.

Tom's record label is Sutherland Records,” It was the name of the street where we were located” and it was formed by Tom as a vehicle for his self-produced "All Strings Attached" album, but now includes a roster of Ghent produced artists from the sixties including Jerry Merrick and Justin Devereaux.

Tom is still very fond of performing live, “It’s the best way to stay current and connected with the world we live in and I like to drive to the gigs. That way if I’m playing in New York and something comes up in Boston or Toronto I can just throw my bag and guitar in the car and get there.”

Keep your eyes open for a Tom Ghent show in your area and remember like the ‘h” in Ghana the “h” in Ghent is silent but not the man.

In his own words “The only real validity of a writer is to communicate. Otherwise, why write?”  Write on Tom.