James began studying piano at the age of 7. He immersed himself in Classical music, with dreams of composing symphonies and concertos. (James used to “air-conduct” Beethoven’s 9th symphony). By the end of high school he was winning scholarships and competitions, seemingly on track to a conservatory education. However, his adolescent urges to “rock out” overwhelmed his Classical inclinations. At the age of 16 James added guitar lessons to his piano studies. Dreams of composing symphonies were replaced by dreams to form the next great Heavy Metal band. He carried this ambition to Berklee College of Music, as a guitar major.
James threw himself into his college studies; adding Jazz harmony and contemporary songwriting to his Classical skills. Ultimately, his Heavy Metal aspirations were not achieved; but he discovered a new fascination in acoustic fingerstyle guitar. James graduated from Berklee cum laude in 2004 with degrees in Performance and Music Business.
After college James spent several years trying to form or join original bands. In 2009 he finally found a successful collaboration with a talented singer. Although he began as just the instrumental half of the partnership, he developed a skillful presence for writing lyrics and melodies too. Together they completed a large catalog of original material. Unfortunately, after three years the partnership fizzled out. Unwilling to give up on their songs, James began singing them himself; and found he enjoyed being a singer/songwriter. Audiences enjoyed him too. James continued looking for bands to work with, but was beginning to question the necessity.
During all the previous years, whenever he was between bands, James composed instrumental music. By now it was 2012, and he had a large catalog of piano and guitar pieces. When combined with his vocal songs he could play 3-4 hour gigs of completely original music. He stopped looking for bands, and started finding his voice as a solo instrumentalist and singer/songwriter. The next step was to record his music. He released his first single, the folk/rock song Wait For Me, in 2014. A full album was next. James had enough material for several albums, but opted to keep his instruments and interests separate for recording. Focusing on piano for his debut, Solo Piano Destruction was released in 2015 to excellent reviews. In 2017 James was invited to perform music from that album at the Grand Ole Opry, as a finalist in the Enlightened Piano Radio Awards.
James recorded his first guitar album, Fingerstyle Acoustic Guitar, in 2018.
Being a multi-instrument, and multi-style musician is a delicate balancing act in the 21st century. Some have told James he must pick one single musical identity and cut out the rest. But, passions cannot be denied. James is equally committed to both of his instruments and songwriting; and can’t imagine ignoring any of them. Instead, he strives to be a modern equivalent to the great Classical masters. (Imagine if an agent told Beethoven “Look Ludwig, you can’t write symphonies because it will confuse the fans of your piano sonatas. What about your brand?”) Future projects of piano, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and vocals are all planned.