Top10 R&B and International Award Winning Songwriter James Day's material has appeared on albums with Lalah Hathaway, Luther Vandross, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Ledisi, Maxwell, Eric Benet, Earth Wind & Fire and the greatest soul record of all time. His new album, "Seasons & Reasons," has Topped The UK Soul Chart, been CD Baby's Top Selling Retro Soul Album Since NOV, and spawned a Top 30 US hit on SiriusXM Radio. Perhaps THE most accomplished Independent songwriter of our time.
James Day – Biography
Many are fans of R&B, funk, and soul music. Nearly just as many lament about the state of contemporary urban music. However, few actually do something about it. One lifelong fan of the genre, songwriting producer James Day did. Following the tradition of such marquee arrangers as Nelson Riddle, Gamble and Huff, and Rod Temperton, the golden eared signature producers George Duke, Barry Eastmond, and Quincy Jones, and the ruling songwriting senseis of Ashford and Simpson, The Brill Building, and Tin Pan Alley, James Day is an amalgamation of arranging, writing, and production influences writ large on the annals of music history. Most of all, he is a fan of the silver and brass eras of 1970s and ‘80s soul music. Determined to keep these soulful sound legacies alive, Day defeated several odds, including a chronic disability, to produce a new soundtrack of our lives while still paying homage to the one almost left behind.
Day grew up in the small Finnish fishing town of Rockport, Massachusetts in a home rich with soulful melodies from the groove and voice stars of the day. His music life grew almost decadent upon moving to New York City in the halcyon of the early ‘80s, when danceable R&B and silky soul was complemented by the emergence of smooth jazz and streetwise hip hop, but also the last glorious gasps of disco. One can hear the collusion of these early influences threading Day’s work, binding his to theirs. In high school, Day was a triple threat, an actor, dancer, and stage singer who starred in the musicals of the day, and even wrote one with future famed Oscar winning animator Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Toy Story) performed by the yet to be discovered Grammy winning Paula Cole. Day eventually found himself a dancer on the syndicated music TV shows “This Week’s Music” with a young Courtney Cox and in videos for legends Carly Simon and Chaka Khan. He also began writing, partnering with then-mega producer Maurice Starr on a cut for platinum artist, Tiffany. Day’s artistic world was beaming with bright promise, when he was suddenly struck with Ménière's disease, destroying his hearing in one ear, leaving him with constant tinnitus and episodic vertigo. Day covered the records and instruments he could no longer bear to look at in sheets, creating a graveyard for a career that seemed to have come to an abrupt end
Upon realizing that he could also one day lose the hearing in his functional ear, Day decided not to be undone, choosing to pursue the one dream still accessible to him. Taking a hard-nosed inventory of what aspects of music he excelled in, Day began to feverishly pursue his creative vision, only this time as a non-performing songwriting producer, selecting better skilled musical collaborators to realize his gifts. A blue-eyed soulster, Day ultimately determined the best way to pay homage to the unsung chanteuses and funkmasters of his favorite eras was to write and produce for those whose talent and work he admired, both new and seasoned, and often left in the margins.
In 2006, Day was off to an auspicious beginning. Starting with the hit UAC hit “Don’t Waste The Pretty” with top session singer Jeff Ramsey (Diana, Whitney, Celine) and its B-side “Remember When” with former By All Means lead singer Mikelyn Roderick, Day was introducing his brand of revitalized classic soul sounds characterized by smooth grooves, full-bodied vocals, and a dollop of old fashioned sentimentality about matters of the heart. He continued that journey with the 2007 Expansion release of Better Days, adding the iconic talents of R&B veteran Audrey Wheeler (Jeff Lorber, C&C Music Factory, Unlimited Touch), Jazz legend Catherine Russell (Steely Dan, David Bowie), and Phil Pery saxophonist Joe Cunningham. Day’s debut album went on to earn a Top 5 slot among the 2008 SoulTrack’s “Year-End Best” and Top Ten in independent sales.
By the 2009 sophomore release of Natural Things—featuring new additions in former EMI recording artist Gavin Christopher (Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock,) sax master Walter Beasley, former Atlantic recording artist Tim Owens, and Incognito's former Karen Bernod, Day’s work was getting global recognition and licensing deals everywhere. His songs experienced over 50 placements on major television broadcast networks, including the shows: Scandal, PopStars, Bad Girls Club, One Life To Live, and Young and the Restless, respectively. A partnership with UK labels, Dome and Expansion, led to placements on multiple compilations including: Soul 40, The Sound of Jazz, New Soul Woman, The Best of Jazz FM, and The Soul of Smooth Jazz. More than a UK darling, Day’s “This Vow” found itself a home on the Curb Records compilation, Ultimate Wedding Hits, while “High Heels” got its major feature film debut in Bending The Rules. Perhaps no other song by Day experienced greater placement and fan support than “Speak Love,” which appeared on several classic soul compilations and is still bringing in royalties from Brazil years after it's release.
With this success, Day became a recipient of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Award of Excellence presented by his Idol Hal David (of the classic Bacharach/David/Warwick catalog) and an in-demand writer, penning “Dreamland” for Lalah Hathaway’s 2011 Stax/Concord release, Where It All Begins, and “If I Were You” for Disney/Nickelodeon star Brooke Allison, and "Hand On Your Heart" for Australia's Double Platinum POPSTARS CD and TV Show among others.
Ever ready for more challenges in 2013, with Seasons & Reasons, Day is now tackling his first holiday album stocking stuffed full of original inspirational and holiday songs, but one also boasting several smooth soul ballads and mid-tempo grooves welcome any time of the year. Expanding his Family Players beyond his trusted A-list singers and musicians: Day here also partners with: Donnie (formerly of Motown), Trina Broussard (formerly of So-So Def), U-NAM, Noah Lifschey, Cool Million and newcomer phenomenon, Cleveland P. Jones amoung others. Ushering in his latest, greatest inspiration, Day has already hit the Top 5 UK Soul Chart with “Considered Delivered” which earned a 2013 Song of the Year SoulTracks Award nomination, and "Rewind" has entered the Top 40 on Sirius/XM Heart & Soul Radio. “R.S.V.P.,” a CHIC-inspired celebration of marriage equality, and “No Son of Mine,” a haunting testimony revealing the challenge of overcoming religious, familial homophobia and prejudice, are both modern, bolder takes on pop music that standout in a catalog lush with retro-soul melodies and arrangements from the reigning days of Chaka Khan, George Benson, Natalie Cole, Luther Vandross, Anita Baker and Earth Wind & Fire. All leaving an indelible mark on Days’ expressive sound. The Seasons & Reasons singers Day handpicked are echoes of a cherished era, interpreting his lyrical truths with precision, resonance, and heart to soundtrack this season’s most intimate moments.
Whether it’s the Gospel Grand Prize winner from the John Lennon International Songwriting Competition, “It’s All Divine” or the personal testament of “1000 Prayers,” Day also taps into his inspirational story of triumph over adversity to transform the spirit and encourage his fans to hold ever fast to their faith. Dancing is allowed with the steppers track, “Celebrate Our Love,” harkening back to the great duets of Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams. With new holiday classics like “Christmas Valentine,” Day uses his songwriting talents to illustrate that love and faith are not just for some, but for everyone. In the church of James Day, all are welcome…to shake their groove thing, to love with abandon, and to live out loud without an ounce of shame. The inspiring and jubilant Seasons & Reasons single writer/producer compilation project will be made just in time for Secret Santa and cherished gifts for the music lovers of the world. Share this smooth funk ‘n’ soul love offering from the ultimate soul fan, one who did more than kvetch about the state of grown folk’s music, he put his work where his passion is.
By L. Michael Gipson
For updates follow James Day at Facebook.com/JamesDayMusic & Facebook.com/JamesDaySongs