- When did you begin singing/performing? Born in Jacksonville Florida, I started singing at six years old; my dad sang in the choir and loved gospel quartets
- What inspired you to begin singing/performing? I would sing along with my dad to the spiritual songs (as he called them) on the radio. The Gospel Hour was an exciting time to hear all of the quartet groups and my dad never got tired of listening to them. There were many awesome singers back then. A few my dad appreciated were: The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Staple Singers, Dixie Hummingbirds, Sensational Nightingales, the Jackson Southernaires, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Swan Silvertones, the Caravans, the Soul Stirrers and the Florida Boys. We would have “church” and jump and shout and yell Halleluiah in the living room as one of his favorites came on the radio. He knew all the songs so me and my sisters and brothers became the background singers. I joined the service when I was 18 and I was stationed in Crete Greece, there was very little entertainment. One day a fellow airman was playing “My Girl” by the Motown group the Temptations. We started singing the Top 40 songs that we got from the U.S. through military exchange stores, I talked about starting a vocal group organized to perform in the military clubs on the air station. This led to regular gigs and opened up opportunities to perform in Athens and in some spots in Wiesbaden Germany. Later while stationed in the Philippines, I joined a group called, “Madness” we did disco and whatever was “hot” at the time, and I started to collaborate and co-wrote some songs with the band. We performed in the military clubs and did weekly gigs at Clark Air Base. After leaving the service, I was in a group called “Solid Foundation” our lead singer at the time was Ruby Winters who had chart hits with Johnny Thunder and Jo Stafford and a Top 20 hit with the song, “I Don’t Want to Cry”. I wrote songs for the group and we performed in prisons, churches and concerts.
- What kind of hurdles, if any, did you have to go through to be where you are today? Since my style is not the norm, it was not always open to a lot of acceptance at first. I loved to write story songs blend the gospel message in upbeat tempos and in a variety of musical ways to express God’s goodness mixing in jazz, pop, r&b and hip hop sounds with each song taking on a different expression. But that’s the way the Lord gave it to me so I stayed with that style. It was not to make a living or to pursue fame, just an ordinary guy who loved writing and singing the way God gave it to me. I stayed with it because it is a part of me; it ministers to the needs of a lot of people and fills a void that needed to be filled in Christian music. The Christian life is a life of victory, joy and praise and I wanted to pursue that sound the Lord was giving me. The Lord kept giving me the songs and I kept singing them. So early on, I became conditioned to be ready for whatever came by way in rejection or acceptance. I brought my three sons musical instruments before they could walk. I started with the toy guitar, drums and keyboard and as they grew older, I got them the real deal. Wow! My own home grown band! We started writing songs and performing original compositions together and soon the choir started to love our songs to, so the Gospel Lighthouse Choir was singing all original material written by me, my sons and the church musicians. As we visited and performed in churches and prisons that is when the “wall came tumbling down” and the hurdles became easy to jump. This is a ministry that opens people hearts as they related to the stories and message in the music. Today there are few if any hurdles and that is a good thing.
- What would you tell other aspiring artists about the music/recording scene? It is not always easy, and you may not like all you see or hear but it’s not about you it about the people you minister to. As one of my pastors said years ago, “I’m just the mailman”. We deliver God’s message in our music, the Holy Sprit ministers to their hearts and souls and the Lord gets the credit. Don’t take critics personal, what you are doing for Christ will last. Be yourself and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and you will be guided in the right path. You have to stay focused on your calling, keep the music positive and what God’s has for you will come. Be happy where you are, that just might be the place where God wants you to be.
- How would you describe your musical style? Relative message music. This makes the songs universal. I write songs about life stories give an account of an event, an experience or circumstance in our life experiences, situations and the challenges we all may encounter. I believe these songs can connect us and helps us to relate to the Gospel message and respond in ways that helps us grow.
- What has been your most embarrassing moment singing/performing in front of a large audience? I was in a group I established called, “Solid Foundation”. We were singing with tracks one night but the technician put on the wrong song, one we hadn’t rehearsed but once. So we kind of looked at each other and since it was an original song, we went right ahead and sang the song like we had been singing it for all the time, fortunately, it turned out well.
- Do you prefer the studio or the stage? Why? Good question. I like a balance because it is in the studio I create and work on giving substance to the message and it comes to life. I then give that “baby” (the song) the nourishment it needs to become something special and unique, ready to be share. It’s a journey from one phase of development to the place of presentation, with the hopes of few stops in between, the stage being the destination with the preparation to perform.
- Have you started writing your next album? Funny you ask, yes I have but for now, just excited about my first release with Tate Music Group, “All Things In Time”. The title song relates well to changes today with the election of President Obama and the historical event my mom and dad didn’t live to see. He cried when he heard the “I Have A Dream” speech and had faith in better days to come. I think that is something we all are looking forward to, a better life and a better world where we all are one. My bible tells me that day will surely come to pass!
TMG Spotlight: James Davis
This week on the TMG Spotlight we feature James Davis, a jazzy sound telling his stories on life and growing up.