With Change Comes Challenges, With Challenges Comes New Songs 

Like everyone, James has had his share of challenges. He was an energetic and creative child who was always daydreaming and displaying his imagination through acting and drawing. That of course was challenging for James’ academics. He struggled in school, except in art class, in which he excelled. His imagination really sparked when, at 16 years old, a friend put a guitar in James’ hands. Right from the start, James didn’t take lessons and didn’t want to learn other people’s songs. He wanted to write his own songs, create his own characters and tell his own stories. Although a happy individual, he enjoyed writing about life’s struggles. James would pull from experiences that he saw happen to people around him. Stories of love, determination, cheating, abuse, and heartache. 

“Creating a song from nothing, then performing it with the same passion as the characters you wrote about, and then seeing how those songs touch others, is unbelievably rewarding.” 

After barely graduating high school, James’ drawings got him accepted into an Animation program. This was another huge challenge for James; he was one of the weakest. After a laborious two years he completed the course but was told he was unhireable. Another challenge to face, which he did. James worked on his portfolio at night for a year and a half and eventually squeaked into a position at an animation studio, where again he had to start from the very bottom. Challenge accepted. James focused and his skills sharpened. 

While still passionately writing, recording, and performing his own music, James’ storytelling skills, along with his evolving drawing abilities, lead him to a successful career as a Storyboard Artist. All his hard work had finally paid off. From there, in 2007 he ended up co-founding Jam Filled Entertainment, an animation studio that now has 700 employees with offices in Ottawa, Toronto and Halifax. 

“Storyboarding has so many similarities to songwriting. The writing, the acting, the timing; all of which kept sharpening my songwriting skills.” 

James was rolling. He had a successful career, was married to his childhood sweetheart and had two wonderful daughters. Life seemed perfect. But then in January 2020, James was slammed with the biggest challenge he had ever faced; his 23 year marriage came to a shocking and devasting end. How did James make it through this challenge? He did what he has always done. He faced it head on. James dug deep and wrote songs that were from a place he had never been before. He wrote with new eyes, new ears, and new emotions. His songs now became personal. 

“My sorrowful songs were always written from a fictional place or as a witness to others pain. Now it was my sorrow, my pain, my wound, and it caused my pen to bleed ink and my guitar to cry chords.” 

From this experience, James has written his best material yet. The next challenge is to have these songs heard. 

“We Live. We Love. We Die.  will not only be my first new single in 7 years, but it’s also a statement of how I live my life; I live the best I can, I love the best I can, because when I die, that’s all that mattered.”