The son of Alan Ehnes, long time trumpet professor at Brandon University (Canada) and Barbara Withey Ehnes, former ballerina with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Ruth Page's International Ballet, and Chicago Ballet, and former director of the Brandon School of Dance, James Ehnes began his violin studies at the age of four and at age nine became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993 to 1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation.
Praised as "the Jascha Heifetz of our day" (Globe and Mail), James Ehnes has performed in over 30 countries on five continents, appearing regularly in the world’s great concert halls and with many of the most celebrated orchestras and conductors. He has a total of 32 recordings released through 2013. His recordings have won numerous awards and prizes, including 7 Junos, a Grammy, and a Gramophone Award. An avid chamber musician, Ehnes tours with his string quartet, the Ehnes Quartet, and is Artistic Director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society.
In October 2005, he was awarded a Doctor of Music degree (honoris causa) from Brandon University and in July 2007 he became the youngest person ever elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada. In 2010, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
- 1995 Niccolò Paganini: 24 Caprices for Solo Violin
- 2000 Sergei Prokofiev: The Two Violin Sonatas and Five Melodies
- 2000 Maurice Ravel | Claude Debussy | Camille Saint-Saëns
- 2000 Johann Sebastian Bach: The Six Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin
- 2001 Max Bruch: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 3
- 2001 French Showpieces
- 2002 Bruch: Concerto No. 2 and Scottish Fantasy
- 2002 Fritz Kreisler
- 2003 Piano Quintets
- 2004 Romantic Pieces
- 2004 Henryk Wieniawski | Pablo de Sarasate
- 2005 Luigi Dallapiccola
- 2005 Ernő Dohnányi
- 2005 Johann Nepomuk Hummel
- 2005 John Adams: Road Movies
- 2005 Antonín Dvořák: Concertos
- 2005 Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord Vol.1
- 2006 Bach: Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord Vol.2
- 2006 Mozart: Mozart Anniversary Orchestra - 2 CD set
- 2007 Paul Schoenfield: Cafe Music, 4 Souvenirs
- 2006 Samuel Barber, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, William Walton: Violin Concertos
- 2007 Edward Elgar: Violin Concerto
- 2008 Homage
- 2009 Niccolò Paganini: 24 Caprices for Solo Violin (new 2009 recording)
- 2010 Felix Mendelssohn: Violin concerto 
- 2011 Bartók: Violin Concertos and Viola Concerto
- 2011 Tchaikovsky: Complete works for violin
- 2012 Bartók: Works for violin and piano, vol. 1
- 2012 Tchaikovsky: The Sleeping Beauty
- 2013 Bartók: Works for violin and piano, vol. 2
- 2013 Britten and Shostakovich violin concertos
- 2013 Prokofiev: Complete works for violin
- Hanson, Philip (1 October 1998). "The Boy from Brandon: Canada's Violin Hope". La Scena Musicale. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "Order of Canada appointments".