James was born and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. From an early age, he was drawn to his native blues and jazz as well as classical and film music, playing everything he heard by ear on the piano and experimenting with his own compositions. It wasn’t until years later that he began formal music studies.
He earned a Bachelor of Music from Centenary College (2000), a Master of Music from Southern Methodist University (2003), and in 2007, received a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Composition at the Conservatory of Music, University of Missouri-Kansas City. James has had the privilege of studying with some of music’s most prominent composers: John Corigliano, Jeff Rona, Jack Smalley, George Tsontakis, Bruce Broughton, Zhou Long, and Chen Yi.
Eakin's music catalog is prolific and spans genres from Concert Hall to Pop/Rock. He has composed works for Maya Angelou’s 80th Birthday celebration, the President’s Christmas Gala at the White House, and the Aspen Music Festival to name a few. James’ hour-long “Flowers over the Graves of War” for Chorus, Soloists, and Orchestra premiered to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall and most recently, his “#twitterlieder: 15 tweets in 3 acts,” premiered by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at Davies Symphony Hall, has taken the choral world by storm.
On his philosophy of composing James says, “I don't draw lines in the sand; music is music, regardless of the genre. If it's got melody, harmony, or rhythm, I can write it.”
James composes with the speed of a film composer and the attention to detail of a concert composer. His grasp of today’s current music technology, his extensive knowledge of various musical styles, periods, instrumentation, and orchestration techniques makes him uniquely qualified for any project that comes his way.