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Sunset’s Soundcheck: Jose James

Jose James is a jazz/soul singer with a soft baritone and a heart that you can hear through his music. Minneapolis-born and bred, James has released three albums, and each one has given listeners a different perspective on who he is as an artist and as a human being. He’s traveled from traditional jazz to hip-hop- influenced experimental soul, and back again, all the while exhibiting his talent for writing, producing, and of course, singing. His voice is warm, strong, and effortlessly smooth. After listening to his music, it becomes clear that James is both a student and master of his art. And he matches his technical expertise with emotional honesty.

There’s a reason that I keep evoking his heart and humanity. James has no “image” to maintain. He gives himself completely over to the music and he does it so effortlessly, so freely, that he never has to overcompensate for it. He just is.

He maintains a personal (and really good) blog on his website, josejamesmusic.com. Here’s an excerpt:

love is the only thing that endures. we all have our lives + music is what we go to for a soundtrack to make the drama of our moments through it. I am providing a moment unlike any other, but one exactly like every other – love for another, confused emotions about being alive, being human, loving another; loving life enough to live it + loving yourself enough to go on another day, month, year – enough to love someone else + to be loved in return. maybe it’s you. maybe it’s you. maybe it’s You. that’s what our eyes implore, whether on the dance floor or the morning after; locking eyes for a moment on crowded trains or in a cafe – maybe, just maybe, I have found love. of course, Love is so much bigger than all of this + I am just one man, watching the rain fall in Brooklyn, typing words into the air…

See what I was saying about his heart and humanity? We act like they don’t make men like this anymore. We act like they don’t make artists like this anymore. Well. Looky here. To drive my point home further, check out the video for “Park Bench People” from his first album, The Dreamer below.

And, lest ye think that James is all about social issues and the like, I’ve also embedded a live performance of “Love Conversation,” a sultrier tune from his more experimental album, BLACKMAGIC, featuring the appropriately named Jordana de Lovely. Enjoy, and please believe that I’m only scratching the surface here with James. I’m sure there will be more of him to come in Soundcheck.

Ok, now that I’ve articulated my thoughts on his artistry, did I mention that he was quite easy on the eyes? Swoon.

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