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Urban/R&B: Retro-Soul Urban/R&B: Quiet Storm Moods: Spiritual Moods: Type: Vocal Jazz: Smooth Jazz

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James Day Songs

The Miraculous Sound and Story of James Day
by Diriye Osman

James Day makes the kind of sinewy, ultra-seductive music that you can enjoy with a lover, jam to at an all-ages family barbeque or groove to in the company of close friends. His is an elegant sound steeped in soulfulness and marinated with good-spirited energy. Very few artists make this kind of elastic, sophisticated music anymore (one can hear in his work elements of the feel-good factor that elevated Natalie Cole, Anita Baker, Sade, Incognito and Frankie Beverley's funkiness to new heights).

Day is a songwriter and producer in the vein of Quincy Jones circa his Q's Jook Joint era, collaborating with a wide variety of stunning vocalists to create a sound that feels distinctly his own. A James Day song is always a joy-inducing affair, and one gets the impression of an artist pushing against his own capabilities and revelling in the results. This emotional expansiveness and generosity stems from a life threaded with trials and triumphs. In order to fully appreciate James Day, you need to appreciate how he got this point in his life and career.

"My grandfather, who had a massive and diverse record collection, saw the love of music in me early and used to allow me to pick one album from his collection every time I visited him. The first was Natalie Cole's Inseparable, which started my life-long love affair with soul music."

Things took a painful turn when Day moved to NYC to study musical theatre at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Soon after his move and getting some recognition dancing on a TV show & in a Chaka Khan video, he was diagnosed with Meniere's disease, a rare disorder that affects the inner ear and leads to vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss. Day left New York and moved back home, where he underwent extensive treatments and two surgeries. Reflecting on that period in his life, he says, "I learned to balance with one side of my body - which was easier for me than most because I had good balance from my dancing years. And I got as used to the ringing and hearing in one ear as I could over time. The only time it really bothers me is when I have problems in my good ear. Then I get very nervous that the same thing will happen on that side, which is a possibility but hasn't happened yet, thank God."

"At first," he says. "I wanted nothing to do with music, it was too painful. I covered all my albums in sheets so I didn't have to look at them. My mother called it a graveyard. But soon I began to listen to them and eventually I built a home recording studio and started writing songs."

Honing his craft and diligently pursuing his ambitions, Day has won numerous awards including the Billboard Magazine & John Lennon International Song Contests as well as the Songwriter's Hall of Fame Award for Songwriting Excellence presented by Hal David.

In a career filled with milestones, one of Day's greatest personal achievements was his work with Lalah Hathaway, for whom he wrote the gorgeous lullaby "Dreamland." Of Day's songwriting, 5X Grammy Award Winner Lalah Hathaway says "James Day is one of the most beautiful, visual writers I know. His lyrics fit me like a glove."

It's important that we support our artists and thinkers in order for the culture to move forward. James Day is a remarkable musician and, just as importantly, a resilient individual whose sound and story is nothing short of miraculous.


Several artists have tried to pull off what have become known as "Quincy Jones" albums over the past half decade, but only a few have turned their ambitions into unadulterated triumphs. When it all comes down, the success or failure of these projects has largely hinged on the quality of the songwriting. And that's where James Day comes in. Like a Burt Bacharach four decades ago or Barry Gibb in the 70s, Day is a singer's songwriter, providing exquisitely laid out songs for the artists with whom he works. Day's approach makes the most comfortable of comfort food for classic soul lovers. One thing a listener can always count on with a James Day album is a collection of melodic, stick-in-your-brain songs and terrific vocal performances, at a time when songwriting is at a premium.

- Chris Rizic,

It’s only natural that James Day would name his new album Repertoire, because by definition, a stock of skills that a person habitually uses, his albums have been just that. The unique set of skills Day possesses have all been poured into his previous releases and his latest offering only ups the ante. The lineup this time around includes Maysa, Tony Terry, Trina Broussard, Glenn Jones, Audrey Wheeler, Donnie, U-Nam, Walter Beasley, Lin Rountree and more. Also featured on this album is Gavin Christopher, who passed away suddenly after the album’s completion. Of Christopher, Day says, “Gavin was very excited about the new remix of “Considered Delivered”, he really loved that song, which I was so honored by because he wrote several of my favorite songs including, “Fool’s Paradise”, “Once You Get Started” and “Stars in Your Eyes” (w. Rufus & Chaka Khan and Herbie Hancock). We spoke days before he passed and he was talking about touring & recording. I'm glad he was still dreaming and creating ‘til the end. We can all learn something from that. I was blessed he called me a friend and honored our musical paths crossed.” James Day is also a dreamer. A dreamer who interprets those imaginings through song.

-Al Lateef Farmer,