Photo: Design: F Inomata/Recording Academy
Shawn James Shares His Folksy Southern Blues & Soul For Press Play
Growing up in the South Side of Chicago and performing from a young age, starting with church choir, Shawn James has soulful music running through his veins. You can hear the influence in his sound today, in his sound which he describes as "ecstatic joy and painful anguish," blending blues, folk and soul. James gives you a taste of this in the fourth episode of the Recording Academy's latest video series, Press Play, which will let you discover, get to know and love artists you may not have heard of yet through original performances.
In this episode James performs "Burn the Witch," which he wrote and recently released as the lead single for his upcoming third full-length solo studio album, The Dark and The Light. The song is about discrimination and those who stand up against it. James offers powerful emotion with his guitar, whistling and stirring lyrics. With a powerful conviction he sings: "What they don't understand, they condemn/ What they can't comprehend, must meet its end/ But I won't scream, won't give them that satisfaction."
Music has always played a big part of the artist's life, surrounded by soulful sounds growing up in Chicago, where, in addition to singing in his church's choir, he studied orchestra and voice in high school. He initially moved to Nashville, Tenn. to pursue a career in music, then to Fayetteville, Ark., where he now resides, although he spends a lot of time on the road, playing over 200 shows a year.
In addition to his solo recordings and shows, James also performs and records delta blues style rock with his band the Shapeshifters. His passion and talent for music hasn't gone unnoticed, as he gained viral success with songs featured on numerous hit TV shows and video games, including in 2016 when his song "Through The Valley" was featured in the trailer for the Sony PlayStation game "The Last Of Us Part II."
James' upcoming solo album which features "Burn The Witch," The Dark and The Light, is due out March 22. Stay tuned to find out which cities he will be visiting in 2019 in support of the new album. Given his love of performing and 200-plus annual show date record, he may very likely be visiting a city near you.