From Tennessee to home: the rise and fall of Arrested Development

"Todd "Speech" Thomas, leader of the Grammy-award winning hip-hop group Arrested Development, recently opened an art school in Fayetteville with wife Yolanda Thomas called Victory Spot. “I’ve learned that the journey is the destination," says Speech. Opening the art school has been on the rapper/singer's heart for quite some time. With a little nudging from his wife, the dream has arrived, but the journey is still going for the hip-hop star. TYSON HORNE/Special

Credit: Tyson A. Horne

Credit: Tyson A. Horne

Grammy-winning Atlanta musician takes a detour from pop stardom to find his calling.

Speech was a 21-year-old college student at The Art Institute of Atlanta when he penned the 1992 hip-hop gem “Tennessee.”

It’s a song that wasn’t supposed to be on Arrested Development’s first album. It came at the emotional expense of the grieving band leader.

Speech had just made a trip to Henning, Tenn., to bury his grandmother, Ardenia Churn, who had died of a heart attack. Her unexpected death shook the family to the core. Barely a week later, Speech’s older brother Terry Thomas, an obstetrician, died of an asthma attack. He was 29.

Speech was about to embark on the road to success, but it would be a rocky road that would lead to some unexpected destinations. Friendships, partnerships and illusions would be lost along the way, and he had to find his own way to fulfillment.

» Read the rest of the story of rise and fall of Arrested Development and Speech's winding path to a place of joy called Victory Spot.

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