Brendan James

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Brendan James
Brendan James
Background information
Born (1979-07-17) 17 July 1979 (age 40)
Nashua, New Hampshire, United States
OriginDerry, New Hampshire, United States
GenresSoft rock, pop rock, folk rock
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, piano
Years active2007–present
LabelsDecca Records

Brendan James (born July 17, 1979) is an American, piano-based singer/songwriter from Derry, New Hampshire.[1][2][3] James spent his early music career playing at New York City open mics before he signed to Capitol Records in 2005. At Capitol he spent a year and a half recording his debut album, but was dropped before its release during the Capitol Records/Virgin Records merger in 2007. After leaving Capitol, he self-produced and released an EP, The Ballroom Break-in. He signed to Decca Records in 2008 and has released two studio albums with the label. His debut album, The Day is Brave, was released in 2008, while his self-titled second album, Brendan James, came out in 2010. He has toured nationally to support the albums, including tours with artists such as Jason Reeves, John Mayer, Tyrone Wells, Matt White,[4] and Amber Rubarth.

Early life[edit]

James was born Brendan James Ernst in Nashua, New Hampshire on 17 July 1979, to parents Patricia and Randy, and is of Irish and German descent.[5] He moved to Derry, New Hampshire, when he was four and, after the divorce of his parents, alternated living between Derry and nearby Manchester, New Hampshire.[6][7] James had an early interest in performing and singing, leading him to perform in school plays and musicals while growing up. He attended high school at Pinkerton Academy in Derry.[8] After the death of a friend's mother, James sang "Candle in the Wind" at her funeral with a local music teacher he knew, Kevin Kandel, accompanying him on piano.[5][9] The collaboration began a friendship between the two and Kandel helped spur James's interest in music.[10]

Music career[edit]

1998-2002: University of North Carolina & Los Angeles[edit]

After graduating high school James went on to attend college at the University of North Carolina, beginning with a major in Voice before switching to Communications.[11] During breaks from school he would head back to Derry and meet up with Kandel, who persuaded James to learn an instrument.[8] James began teaching himself piano at the age of 19 and also started writing and composing songs.[3][8] Back at the University of North Carolina, James joined the Clef Hangers, an a cappella group.[2][8] With the Clef Hangers he would sing solo covers of "I Can't Make You Love Me", "Father Figure", and "Die Without You," songs that were later released on compilation CDs from the group.[12] During his Junior year of college, wanting to pursue a career in music, he left UNC and went to Hollywood. He earned school credits during the stay on the condition that he accept an internship at a business related to his Communications degree.[13] While living in Los Angeles,[14] he played at a club called The Crooked Bar (located underneath the Coconut Teaszer), while working on songs and performing.[5] When his internship ended he returned to the University of North Carolina to complete his Communications degree, which he obtained in 2002.[1][2][15]

2003-06: Early New York & Capitol Records[edit]

After graduation from college, James had planned to return to Los Angeles and focus on his music career, even paying a rent deposit for an LA apartment. However, he changed his plans and decided to move to New York City following a day visit to the city. He worked at a job at Urban Outfitters[1][6] to support himself. He held that job for the next three years[8] while also performing at open mikes in the East Village.[10][16] Around this time he also began breaking into various hotels, ballrooms and schools in order to use a piano to practice with pianos so he could practice.[3][17] In 2003 he partnered with his still-current manager Ben Singer,[18] a former classmate James had met at UNC.[5] Ben helped him record a demo that eventually made its way to Carly Simon,[1][2][19] who invited James to come and record a song with her. The song, "Let the River Run", would play at the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.[11]

In 2005 James would record another demo, this time professionally produced by Tony Bruno in Woodstock, New York[20] at the Millbrook Sound Studio. The demo caught the interest of major labels and James did a showcase at The Living Room in New York City for various record companies. After the showcase, James was invited to Los Angeles to play for Capitol Records CEO Andrew Slater.[5] Slater signed him to a record deal and James spent the next year and a half working on his debut album, recording with producers Tony Bruno and Patrick Leonard. Production of the album was wrought with difficulties: re-recording, disagreements over artistic direction and waiting on record label decisions extended the production.[5] After re-recording the album with a new producer, it was almost ready to be released when James was dropped from Capitol Records following the merger and takeover of Capitol by Virgin Records.[21] James, along with many other artists, was dismissed from the newly merged label, but was allowed the keep his master tapes and was given a severance package.[2][10][22]

2007–08: The Ballroom Break-In, The Day Is Brave and Decca Records[edit]

Still living in New York, James used and built upon the music he developed and recorded at Capitol, working to release the album himself. He recorded material from the Capitol album with Los Angeles-based producer Mikal Blue,[17][23] turning it into James's self-released EP, The Ballroom Break-In, in 2007.[24] The title of the EP was based on his early days in New York City, when he broke into venues in order to practice playing and writing songs on a piano.[24] After the release of the EP, Tomas Young, a paralyzed Iraq War veteran, heard one of its songs, "Hero's Song," on iTunes.[25][26] Young picked the song to be on a soundtrack of a documentary of his life, called Body of War.[1] Music from his EP was also used in television shows, including "The Sun Will Rise" which appeared on the ABC drama Private Practice in 2007.[27] James and Blue quickly followed up The Ballroom Break-in with the full-length album, The Day Is Brave.[7] The album used most of the material from the EP and some of the Capitol songs, but also contained new material James had written. As his EP's exposure grew, including a feature on Perez Hilton,[28] James again gained the interest of major record labels. In 2008 he signed with Decca Records.

Decca Records released Brendan James's debut album, The Day Is Brave on 3 June 2008, in the United States, and on 17 June 2008 in Canada. It debuted on the Top 10 Billboard Heatseeker Charts, with Newsweek and Entertainment Weekly[29] praising his debut effort. The album's single was "Green" and a music video was produced for the song.[30] James initially toured regionally to support the album, headlining his own shows and also opening for artists such as Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend, Susan Tedeschi, The Fray, and Robert Cray. At the end of 2008 James went on his first national tour, headlining on the MTV SoundTRACKER Tour.[24][31]

2009-2011: Brendan James[edit]

Writing for James's second album began in early 2009 after the MTV Soundtracker Tour had ended. James moved from New York City to Los Angeles, where he is currently based, after having spent much time there in the past few years.[32] Writing and production lasted for the next year and James said the second album was "far more difficult to write than my first." He traveled to London to make the album but the production work done there was scrapped.[5] He eventually started working with producer Warren Huart back in Los Angeles and finished the album there.[33] During the creation of his second album James embarked on more touring, including notable tours with John Mayer's Mayercraft Carrier 2 in March 2009[19] and one sponsored by scooter-maker Vespa in May 2009. The Vespa-sponsored "green tour" with Jason Reeves and Amber Rubarth saw them traveling the California Coast on Vespa scooters while focusing on environmental friendliness.[24][34] James was also getting his songs on more television shows, like So You Think You Can Dance, Bones and Army Wives.[10]

James's second album, the self-titled Brendan James, was completed in 2010 released on 7 September 2010. The album debuted at #93 on the Billboard 200, making it more successful than his previous album.[35] The album's single was "The Fall" and again a music video was made, this time featuring Melissa Ordway as the female lead.[36] The song "Stupid for Your Love" was also available for free on James's website as part of the album promotion. Touring to support the album continued through 2010 and into early 2011, with a notable tour with musician Matt White.[4]

2012: Hope In Transition[edit]

In November 2011 James announced via his Twitter account that he was planning on releasing a new album of 10 songs in February 2012. This was pushed back to July 2012.[37]

The new album, Hope In Transition was produced by Max Coane, with additional tracks produced by Julian Coryell. Engineering by Bill Mims, Chandler Harrod, Max Coane, and Jeff Hannan. Mixing by Jeff Hannan, Max Coane, and Erich Gobel. The album was mastered by Gavin Lurssen assisted by Reuben Cohen.[38]

Hope in Transition was released on 10 July 2012 via Rock Ridge Music.[39]

2013: Kickstarter Campaign and New Album[edit]

Brendan opened for Tyrone Wells on his US tour during March and April 2013.[40] On March 19, 2013, Brendan James announced a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to promote his new album, which he said was "almost done". He described it as "a 12 song album, traditionally recorded live with my touring band, and inspired by the style of my idols - James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and others." As of March 26, 2013, he had raised $26,139 of his $20,000 goal in only 10 days, with 15 days still left in the funding period, with a total of $33,948 raised at the conclusion of the funding period.[41]

The album, titled "Simplify", was released on August 6,

2018: Wish You Well [42] is Brendan's latest single which was released on April 23, 2018 by Lot 100 Productions ASIN: B07CBCNVQ3. It was featured in the Australian TV soap 'Neighbours' on April 03, 2019 in the UK.

Musical Styles & Influences[edit]

James is a singer/songwriter with a piano-based style. He cites taking inspiration from 1970s artists James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder, as well as more current artists like Ryan Adams and Death Cab For Cutie.[23]



Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
Billboard 200
U.S. Digital U.S. Rock
2008 The Day is Brave

2010 Brendan James

2012 Hope In Transition

2013 Simplify

  • Released: 6 August 2013
  • Label: Lot 100 Productions/Noble Steed Music
  • Format: CD, digital download


Year Title Chart positions Album
U.S. Hot 100 U.S. Heatseekers Songs
2008 "Green" The Day Is Brave
2010 "The Fall" Brendan James


  • The Ballroom Break-In (2007)
  • The Howl (2015)


  1. ^ a b c d e Rachel Syme (13 July 2008). "Who's That: Singer Brendan James Is a Hometown Hero". Page Six Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 July 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e David Menconi (25 February 2011). "Persistence is Brendan James' virtue". Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Ashley Iasimone (26 October 2010). "Brendan James Becomes One of 'The Lucky Ones'". PopEater. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Matt White, Brendan James, Will Know". Berklee College of Music. 17 February 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Evan Amos (20 May 2011). "Evan Amos interview". Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  6. ^ a b Joel D Amos (20 May 2008). "Brendan James Talks". She Knows. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Brendan James bio". music allies. Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Better late than never". The San Francisco Examiner. 30 August 2010. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  9. ^ "Second Cup Cafe: Brendan James". CBSNews. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  10. ^ a b c d "Brendan James bio". Decca Records. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  11. ^ a b "How Sneaking into Hotels Helped Brendan James Find a Career in Music". andPOP. 1 June 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  12. ^ "Breeze Album overview". UNC Clef Hangers. Archived from the original on 11 February 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  13. ^ "Back Stage Live: Brendan James' Delinquent Past". CBS. Retrieved 8 June 2011.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Andrew Leahey. "All Music bio". All Music Guide. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  15. ^ Christa Fletcher. "Brendan James info". Channel One News. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  16. ^ "Singer no longer "steal" pianos". CNN. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  17. ^ a b "Brendan James EPK". Decca Records. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  18. ^ David Bergman (3 June 2008). "Breaking In and Breaking Out". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  19. ^ a b "20 questions for singer-songwriter-pianist Brendan James" (PDF). Western Herald. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  20. ^ Brendan James (9 November 2005). "Brendan James blog". myspace. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  21. ^ Jeff Leeds (26 January 2007). "EMI Merging Record Labels and Ousting Capitol's President". New York Times. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  22. ^ "Capitol Records dropping lots of bands". BrooklynVegan. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  23. ^ a b Ben Rhudy (27 May 2008). "M&C Interview: Brendan James talks The Day is Brave". Monsters and Critics. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  24. ^ a b c d Emily J Ramey (1 June 2009). ""On a Bold Horizon" with Brendan James". American Music Channel. Archived from the original on 30 September 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  25. ^ "Brendan James/Tomas Young interview". YouTube: bjamesmusic. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  26. ^ Jim Farber (19 December 2008). "Soul-searching singer Brendan James hits the Blender Theater". NY Daily News. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  27. ^ Rebecca Creamer (15 September 2010). "Brendan James interview". Static. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  28. ^ Perez Hilton (20 May 2008). "Listen To This: Primary Colors". Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  29. ^ Leah Greenblatt (21 May 2008). "Guys on the Rise: 8 Emerging Singer-Songwriters". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  30. ^ "Brendan James - Green". YouTube: BrendanJamesVEVO. 19 December 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
  31. ^ Arun Kristian Das (23 December 2008). "Music Journal: Brendan James Ends a Journey at the Blender Theater". My Fox New York. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  32. ^ "Brendan James". Fox 4 News. 29 September 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  33. ^ "Who's Next: Brendan James". M Music Magazine. August 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  34. ^ Josh Jackson (21 April 2009). "The Vespa Experiment". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  35. ^ a b "Billboard Brendan James album info". Billboard Music. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  36. ^ "The Fall music video". BrendanJamesVEVO. 19 August 2010. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  37. ^ Brendan James (8 November 2011). "10 new songs. Feb Release?". Brendan James's Twitter. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
  38. ^ "Hope in Transition - Brendan James | Credits". AllMusic. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  39. ^ "Music News". 4 October 2013. Archived from the original on 29 April 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  40. ^ "Brendan James Gigography, Tour History". Songkick. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  41. ^ "Brendan James - the new album! by Brendan James — Kickstarter". Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  42. ^
  43. ^ "The Day Is Brave chart history". Billboard 200. 21 June 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2011.

External links[edit]