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James was gifted his first guitar when he was 10 years old. The beat up instrument came with a chord book. “Heartbreak hotel” performed by Elvis was the first song he learned to play before taking lessons six years later to learn scales. James grew up listening to bands such as My Chemical Romance and Motley Crue. His musical influences are most apparent on the sound of his 2011 album Memories of A Beautiful Disaster because Howard Benson produced it, the man who produced the music James grew up listening to.

“To me a guitar has a soul and feeling. Some guitars I really feel at home with and some I don’t when I pick them up to play them.” His first major guitar purchase was a sunburst Ibanez that exhibited characteristics similar to a Les Paul. He soon realized that electric wasn’t the proper fit for him. He sold that guitar for a Two Step. After his friend gifted him a guitar, he realized he prefers to write lyrics and rhythms as well as perform with Epiphone acoustics. When lyrics call for it, he will switch to his Epiphone Explorer and Prophecy for a heavy sound.

James’s collection of guitars documents his growth as an artist. His sound has significantly matured since his American Idol days. His latest single “Parachute” showcases his maturity through lyrics in the deep bowels of his heart, that let his powerful and energetic voice shine, accompanied with infectious pop-rock hooks. According to James, it was a magical experience writing his first single “Parachute,” off his forthcoming album; CELEBRATE.

“Parachute” is the first new music from James since his last two singles “Love Me Bad” and “Stand Up” were released in 2011. “Love Me Bad” cracked the Top 30 at Hot AC/Top 40 radio while the anthemia NFL rock single “Stand Up” landed in the Top 20. “Stand Up” was an official NFL anthem used on jumbotrons nationwide during the NFL’s 2011-12 seasons. Both tracks were featured on his debut release Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster which debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Rock Album chart and #36 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album chart. MOAB has sold over 125,000 copies to date and was named one of Billboard’s Best Rock Albums of 2012.

At age 25, James is realizing that his music needs to reflect what his heart is feeling to be successful in a processed manner. He came to Brentwood, Tennessee to write his latest album. The diversity of talent performing in the Nashville area sprinkled with his romantic life kept the magic alive. James will be finishing up a six-week acoustic tour on February 15th at the Catalyst in his hometown: Santa Cruz, California and will hit the road again this spring to coincide with the release of CELEBRATE.

Stephanie Hollander