Maestro J (James Racine) was born in 1980 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti into a family of musicians. His father is a flutist, conductor and composer. His mother is an educator and professional violist. Maestro J began playing the violin at the age of four, instructed by his mother. He later studied with Yvrose Philippe-Auguste and Romel Joseph. He added the piano and the flute a few years later.
For three consecutive summers he was awarded a scholarship to travel to the United Stages and attend the Sewanee Summer Music Center, in Tennessee. By the age of sixteen, he was the assistant concertmaster of the Holy Trinity Philharmonic Orchestra in Haiti and the first violinist of the Holy Trinity String Quartet. He led the quartet to the Finals at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition in South Bend, Indiana. At the age of 18, He moved to the United States to pursue further musical education.
He attended the University of Kentucky where he was awarded a full music & academic scholarship. He was also the recipient of the William C. Parker Grant during his entire undergraduate career. He studied the violin and the viola respectively with Professors Daniel Mason and Dorotea Hoffman. He played in the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and as a student, auditioned and was hired by The Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. During his undergraduate years, Maestro J fell in love with teaching and volunteered his time to The String Project, a program delivered by the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) to offer a musical education to the youth.
At the end of his junior year, He was hired to commute and teach along with Professor Hoffman at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. At the conservatory, he taught a strings class for the college’s preparatory program. ,
Back at UofK, he founded The Animato String Quartet. He performed along with violinists Hristo Popov, Ella Chang and cellist Yoonie Choi. The Animato Quartet performed at many events around the nation and were awarded full fellowships to participate in the Garth Newel Chamber Music Festival in Hot Springs, Virginia.
By the end of his 4th year at the university, Maestro J received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance with a concentration on violin.
He then moved to Louisville, KY to take the orchestra director position at The Myers School and be the residing violin instructor at Steilberg Strings. Maestro J wanted to also give back to the community by teaching both violin and viola at the Western Louisville Talent Education Center along with Keith Cook. This is a program offering private instruction to children who cannot afford lesson fees. Outside of teaching, Maestro J was also the principal violist for The Louisville Bach Society, and when he was available, performed with The Louisville Orchestra. Undoubtedly a sought-after performer & educator, after a few years, he took the position as both Musical Director and Orchestra Director at the Kentucky Country Day School College Preparatory Program, where he also held a full violin/viola studio.
His musical influences are so diverse. Maestro J is the solo violinist of the New Age group F.E.D. As a group, they were gold medaled in the Instrumental Music category at the 2006 edition of the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) held in California. Maestro J regularly honors performance commitments at public and private events and many festivals across the nation and in the Caribbean and recently was a headliner for the inaugural Richmond Jazz Festival in Virginia. He has performed shows with artists such as Roy Ayers, Ronnie Laws, Keke Wyatt, Jon B, Dru Hill, Amel Larrieux, Al Jarreau, George Duke, Chaka Khan, Ledisi, and more…and recently released his neo-soul album “Stages of Love” on which he showcases the best of his talent.