Thomas left school after the fifth grade and began playing guitar at the age of 11. She began performing at "country suppers" when she was 17. During the 1920s and 1930s, she performed with Texas Alexander, Leon Benton and Leroy Johnson.
She recorded two songs issued by Paramount Records, "Motherless Child Blues" and "Over to My House", with Geeshie Wiley on second guitar, in March 1930. The two recorded a duet, "Pick Poor Robin Clean", for Paramount in 1931, and Thomas also backed Wiley on the three other surviving tracks from these sessions, playing second guitar on Wiley's "Last Kind Words Blues", "Skinny Leg Blues", and "Eagles on a Half".
Her recordings for Paramount in 1930 and 1931 were labeled "Elvie Thomas". In an interview with blues researcher Robert "Mack" McCormick, she said of her name, "It's just the letters L. V., . . . that's all the name I got, but he [Paramount representative Arthur Laibly or pressing foreman Alfred Schultz] made it out 'Elvie' someway."