“Music is the playground where technique and inspiration meet. It’s a unique expression that only happens once in time. The by-product of incredible music is that it changes people’s lives. My job as a composer is to create music that transports the listener to a different place than where they started out and to do it in a way that supports the intentions of the project.”
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, as well as his own compositional musings. His inspiration to become a film/tv composer actually stemmed from his fascination with music in animation. James reflects,”The way the music accentuated various actions and moods while staying perfectly in sync intrigued me. It was truly a supporting character.” During these early years, James taught himself piano, guitar, saxophone, clarinet, and flute, all the while singing at every opportunity.
It wasn’t until years later that James 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.
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 on February 20, 2012.
On his philosophy of composing James says, “I do not draw lines in the sand when it comes to music. I always say that I go from Mozart to Metallica in zero seconds flat. My goal as a composer is to bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary music.”
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 a force to be reckoned with…that coupled with the fact that he has black belts in Kenpo, Judo, and Aikido and can bench press over four hundred pounds.
-Biography by Amanda Lazar