Karen Chen of the United States competes in the women’s short program team figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday using music by Sequim composer Jennifer Thomas. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)

Karen Chen of the United States competes in the women’s short program team figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday using music by Sequim composer Jennifer Thomas. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)

Sequim composer’s music makes Winter Olympics debut

Karen Chen helps U.S. to silver medal with Thomas’ song

SEQUIM — Call her two for two when it comes to the Olympics in the past year.

Sequim composer/musician Jennifer Thomas’ music was played during a figure skating routine for U.S. competitor Karen Chen on Sunday at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. It follows the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics last summer when multiple gymnasts used Thomas’ music for routines, too.

“It is definitely exciting for me,” Thomas said. “It is always such a great honor to have my music used on a worldwide platform such as the Olympics.”

Chen made her Olympic team event debut in the women’s team short program and placed fifth to Clint Mansell’s “Requiem for a Dream” that was arranged and performed by Thomas for her “Illumination” album. The women’s team won the silver medal for their efforts.

Thomas said she was watching the Olympics on TV when she heard Chen’s music selection.

“I thought, ‘wait a minute, is that my music?’”

“And sure enough, it was,” Thomas said. “It was a total surprise because, as far as I knew, I wasn’t expecting to hear my music in the Olympics.”

In 2021, there was hope that Thomas’ music would make the leap to the Olympics from the World Figure Skating Championships, where three skaters used her songs.

Rika Kihira of Japan qualified for the Olympics and previously skated to Thomas and Kimberly StarKey’s song “The Fire Within,” but Kihira had to withdraw from the Olympics due to an injury.

Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea, who is competing at the Olympics in Beijing, previously skated to the same song for two seasons, but he’s not using it this season, Thomas said.

She said there’s a possibility others might use her music at the Olympics, but she’s unsure.

“Honestly at this point nothing shocks me anymore,” Thomas said.

“With both the Summer and Winter Olympics, I didn’t think my music would be used, and both times it has and it’s not over yet. We still have weeks left of competition so you never know.”

Chen skates in the individual program again on Feb. 15 at 2 a.m. PST on NBC programming to the same song.

Impact

Thomas has seen a global increase in interest in her music, she said.

“Most always it’s whatever songs are being used in figure skating competitions throughout the world,” she said. “I’ve seen my streaming numbers also increase, which is obviously a huge blessing for me as well.”

Thomas said she usually doesn’t know when her music is going to be used. An exception was last year, when the Russian gymnastics team contacted her ahead of time to authorize use in the Summer Olympics.

“I usually find out along with everyone else,” Thomas said. “I do follow figure skating though, and I usually know who is using my music throughout the season.”

Chen’s was a surprise because she changed her music about a month ago for the U.S. Nationals, Thomas said.

Royalties are complex, she said, and money paid by networks goes to a blanket Public Performance License royalty. It is divided and paid in a small amount through her Performing Rights Organization. It can take up to a year to be paid, she said.

Thomas sees herself as being paid through exposure around the world.

“Honestly, my joy comes from seeing it used in this beautiful, artistic way,” she said.

Being a part of the Olympics is an honor, she said; it checks off some bucket list items.

“I think now the only thing that could top this is to one day be invited to perform at the Olympics. I’m putting that out to the universe right now,” she said.

What’s ahead?

Most recently, Thomas contributed her song “The Adventurer” to the Epic Women album “The Shero’s Journey,” with more information at www.lnk.to/epicwomen_thesherosjourney.

Thomas’ music is on all major digital streaming platforms, available for purchase at Amazon, iTunes and www.jenniferthomasmusic.com.

She’s working on a new album now while filming a docu-series about its process. Fans can support her music/filmmaking at www.patreon.com/jenniferthomas.

________

Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

Karen Chen, of the United States, competes in the women’s short program team figure skating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics on Sunday, using music by Sequim composer Jennifer Thomas. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Jennifer Thomas, a Sequim composer, stands for a photo in Vancouver, B.C., during the 2018-19 Grand Prix Finals, where she saw Rika Kihira of Japan skate to a first-place finish. Kihira uses Thomas’ song “A Beautiful Storm” in her free skate routine. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Thomas)

Jennifer Thomas, a Sequim composer, stands for a photo in Vancouver, B.C., during the 2018-19 Grand Prix Finals, where she saw Rika Kihira of Japan skate to a first-place finish. Kihira uses Thomas’ song “A Beautiful Storm” in her free skate routine. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Thomas)

Jennifer Thomas (Photo by Ron Southworth)

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