B i o g r a p h y
A native of Frederick, MD, James’ love for the stage began at age four when he sang an innocent rendition of Love Shack at his parent’s square dance. From there he began disrupting second grade classes by breaking out in song, singing Shania Twain at fairs, complete with animal face paint, and refusing to let the home videos end until he had sung all of We Shall Overcome. His parents quickly enrolled him in Frederick Children’s Chorus, in which he funneled all of his musical energy until leaving Frederick.
In middle school, James auditioned for his first musical with the Fredericktowne Players. It was an utter disaster (he couldn’t remember the tune to Jingle Bell Rock,) but somehow he received quite a substantial role. From there, he got involved with the Maryland Ensemble Theater which would provide most of his middle school training in theater, with focus in improvisation.
During high school, James found many opportunties to gain a strong focus on both music and theater. In 2001, he graduated from the Frederick Children's Chorus into Frederick Chamber Singers, and eventually became a conducting intern for the children's chorus. In 2004, he became a founding member of a youth acting troupe named Actors Anonymous that would successfully perform from the Maryland Ensemble Theater for another three years. For his senior, project he recorded a Christmas album and sold it throughout Frederick, MD, giving all proceeds to Christmas Cash for Kids, a local charity. By the end of high school, James had performed with many theaters, including The Maryland Ensemble Theater, Way Off-Broadway, Fredericktowne Players, MET-X, The Fun Company, SAB Productions, Patriot Point, Village Dinner Theater, and TJ Stage.
After high school, James applied and was accepted to the nation’s oldest music conservatory, Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins. His Peabody Career included performances in Company, Les Contes D’Hoffman, Die Zauberflöte, L’Histoire du Soldat, Ring Dang Doo, and the outreach opera, Hansel and Gretel. While at Peabody, he studied with celebrated American Baritone, William Sharp. James founded and directed Peabody’s theatrical improv workshop which was aimed at instrumental musicians overcoming stage fright, and Just Music N Theatricks, which produced a production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Before James left Baltimore, he was given the opportunity to take part in the world premiere production of Zippy the Pinhead! the Musical by Lorraine Whittlesey, where he played the rapping villainous Mr. the Toad.
Following his graduation from The Peabody Conservatory, James went to New York University Steinhardt for a Masters of Music and an Advanced Certificate in Vocal Pedagogy. At NYU, James performed in Street Scene, From Berlin to Broadway: The Music of Kurt Weill, BullFright, Lunch with Moto, and Breakfast Lunch and Dinner. The two year program also gave James the chance to serve as adjunct faculty and began his teaching career with both private students and group vocal class. At NYU, James studied with Matthew Shepard Smith.
James’ awards include two finalist positions in the Frederick Talent Search, 1st place in the 2004 Shepherd College Vocal Competition, 2005 MD Distinguished Scholar in the Arts, and Honorable Mention in the 2007 Sue Geots Ross Memorial Competition.
Past teachers and coaches have included Carol DeSantis, Judy DuBose, Ernest Ligon, Frank G. Shiro, Stan Tucker, Michael Riccardone, A. Scott Parry, and Rick Joyce.
When not singing or acting, James can usually be found exploring the urban jungle, reading historical fiction or theology, having abstract philosophical conversations, or trying new foods.
Left: A young James in some terrifying face piant. Strangely, when left to his own devices, his stage make-up still looks like this...
Below: High School James Pre show make-up for Beauty and the Beast. This time he was in charge of the make-up.
Left: Undergraduate headshot rocking the beard.
Below: Backstage shot as Mr. The Toad in Zippy the Pinhead. His face hadn't been painted yet, but check out that green hand...