Casey James

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Casey James
Casey James in July 2010
Casey James in July 2010
Background information
Birth nameCasey Everett James
Born (1982-05-31) May 31, 1982 (age 39)
Plano, Texas
OriginFort Worth, Texas, United States
GenresPop, country, rock, blues[1]
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, mandolin
Years active2008–present
LabelsBNA (2010-12)
19 (2010-2015)
Columbia (2012-2015)

Casey Everett James (born May 31, 1982)[2] is an American singer and guitarist from Fort Worth, Texas, who was the third-place finalist on the ninth season of American Idol and is an independent recording artist.[3] He released his eponymous album in March 2012 from which three singles, "Let's Don't Call It a Night", "Crying on a Suitcase", and "The Good Life" were released. In October 2014, James released "Fall Apart" as the first single from a planned second studio album, but Sony opted not to release the record and they split ways. In 2017, James released his second album, Strip It Down, to critical acclaim.

Early life[edit]

James was born on May 31, 1982 in Plano, Texas, to Debra "Bybee" and Beau James.[4] The family moved to Princeton, Texas, but after his parents divorced when James was about four, his mother raised him and his brother Billy Cole in Cool, Texas.[5] James had a bad reaction to his pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine when he was an infant, and his family feared brain damage.[1][6][7] According to his mother, however, she realized that he would be all right and was going to be musical when he started humming the theme song from M*A*S*H.[6]

James performing on the American Idol Live! tour in Denver, Colorado, on August 23, 2010

James started playing the guitar at 13 and within a year was playing on stage. James has played acoustic sets with his mother, and blues with his older brother. He has also played with country and rock bands.[8][9] At the age of 21, he was in a serious motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life. He was told by his doctor that he would no longer be able to play guitar, a medical prediction that proved untrue.[10] During the American Idol hometown visits, James returned to the hospital where he was treated for his injuries and presented an autographed guitar to his surgeon, Dr. Cory Collinge.[11]

Before American Idol, he played with his band, The Casey James Band, consisting of James, his brother, Billy Cole (bass), and Jacy McCann (drums). They recorded four songs, including the first song that James ever wrote, "Freezing," back in 2002.

Musical influences[edit]

James cites blues guitarist Doyle Bramhall II as a major musical influence and whom he would most like to perform with in his Idol Q&A.[1] Another major influence is Stevie Ray Vaughan; James named Vaughan's In the Beginning (1992) as a formative album in his early years.

I got an album called “In the Beginning” and I learned every note on it, which was easier to do because it was early on in his career [it was recorded in 1980]. I learned all those notes and it opened me up to the blues. When you look what he was doing, a lot of it was covers, and then you go back and start listening to those guys -- the originals Albert King, Freddie King, Albert Collins -- those influences changed me, too.

Other influences cited in the article are southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and Pearl Jam.[12]

American Idol[edit]

James was a contestant on American Idol during its ninth season. He made it to the Top 3 before being eliminated on May 19, 2010. James had tried out for and been selected to compete in the ninth season of Idol in 2009 in spite of the fact that he had never seen the show.[13] He was the oldest contestant to be selected for the Top 24 of the ninth season at the age of 27. James was voted off of the competition on May 19, 2010, and finished in third place. During the finale of American Idol, he performed a duet of "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" with Bret Michaels.[14]

USA Today music critic Brian Mansfield suggested that James was "the best guitar player the show [American Idol] has seen."[15]


Episode Theme Song choice Original artist Order # Result
Audition N/A "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room" John Mayer N/A Advanced
Hollywood First Solo "I Don't Need No Doctor" Ray Charles N/A Advanced
Hollywood Group Round "Closer" Ne-Yo N/A Advanced
Hollywood Second Solo "Bubbly" Colbie Caillat N/A Advanced
Top 24 (12 Men) Billboard Hot 100 Hits "Heaven" Bryan Adams 11 Safe
Top 20 (10 Men) "I Don't Want to Be" Gavin DeGraw 3 Safe
Top 16 (8 Men) "You'll Think of Me" Keith Urban 5 Safe
Top 12 The Rolling Stones "It's All Over Now" The Valentinos 3 Safe
Top 11 Billboard Number 1 Hits "The Power of Love" Huey Lewis and the News 9 Safe
Top 10 R&B/Soul "Hold On, I'm Comin'" Sam & Dave 2 Safe
Top 9 Lennon–McCartney "Jealous Guy" John Lennon 7 Safe
Top 91 Elvis Presley "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" Lloyd Price 9 Safe
Top 7 Inspirational "Don't Stop" Fleetwood Mac 1 Bottom 32
Top 6 Shania Twain "Don't!" Shania Twain 3 Bottom 33
Top 5 Frank Sinatra "Blue Skies" Belle Baker 2 Safe
Top 4 Songs of the Cinema Solo "Mrs. Robinson" — The Graduate Simon & Garfunkel 4 Safe
Duet "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" — Don Juan DeMarco with Michael Lynche Bryan Adams 6
Top 3 Contestant's Choice "OK, It's Alright with Me" Eric Hutchinson 1 Eliminated
Judge's Choice4 "Daughters" John Mayer 4
  • ^Note 1 Due to the judges using their one save to save Michael Lynche, the Top 9 remained intact for another week.
  • ^Note 2 When Ryan Seacrest announced the results for this particular night, James was among the Bottom 3 but declared safe second, as Tim Urban was eliminated.
  • ^Note 3 When Ryan Seacrest announced the results for this particular night, James was among the Bottom 3 but declared safe second, as Siobhan Magnus was eliminated.
  • ^Note 4 Song selected by Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi.


James joined the rest of the Top 10 on the American Idols LIVE! tour. His four-song set included "I Got Mine" by The Black Keys, "Don't" by Shania Twain, "It's All Over Now" by Bobby Womack, and "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" by Bryan Adams alongside fellow contestant Michael Lynche.

In March 2011 he opened for Sugarland on their The Incredible Machine Tour[16] and has been playing other solo and opening gigs including performing at the ACM Awards fan party[17] and 2011 CMA Fest.[18]

2012: Casey James[edit]

On August 17, 2010, it was announced that James had signed with Sony Music Nashville and his debut album would be released on BNA Records/19 in 2011.[19] Sony Music Nashville Chairman and CEO Gary Overton said: "We at Sony Music Nashville are incredibly excited about signing CASEY JAMES. I flew to NEW YORK to see him 'live' with the American Idol Tour and I was blown away with his voice, guitar playing and stage presence...and so were the thousands of fans in the amphitheatre. He has honed his skills as a showman with his years of performing live on stage! I can't wait to get him into the studio to begin recording his debut album."[20] James worked with country songwriter Tom Douglas. Douglas has said of James that "he's the real deal. He's a great singer and great guitar player, so I'm looking forward to writing with him."[21] James collaborated with some of country music's notable songwriters including Aimee Mayo,[22] Alabama's Randy Owen, Sugarland's Kristian Bush, and Delbert McClinton,[23]

James first single, "Let's Don't Call It a Night", was released on August 15, 2011, and sold 5,000 copies in its debut week.[24] James co-wrote "Let's Don't Call It a Night" with Brice Long and Terry McBride.[25] James' self-titled debut CD was released on March 20, 2012 on BNA Records. James co-wrote nine of the CD's eleven tracks and co-produced the CD with Chris Lindsey.[26]

On June 4, 2012, James was moved to Columbia Nashville, another division of Sony Music Nashville, after the closure of BNA Records.[27] Shortly after, his second single "Crying on a Suitcase" was released on June 18, with a music video released in August.


In October 2014, James released "Fall Apart" as the first single from a second studio album.[28] However, Sony decided not to release this album and James and Sony separated. As an independent artist, James launched a Kickstarter in October 2016 to raise at least $30,000 for his new album,[29] and surpassed this goal.[30] The album, Strip It Down, received rave reviews. Rainey Wetnight of Blues Blast Magazine called the album "outstanding" and highlighted the track "Bulletproof", which features Delbert McClinton.[31] Alexandra Veltri of gave the album eight stars out of ten. She praised James for his vocals and guitar playing, while writing, "Every note and lyric is in service to the song, the album, and the listener."[32] Mark Franklin of the York Dispatch considered Strip It Down to be a more authentic representation of James as an artist than his previous album,[33] calling it "blusier [and] much more rocking".[34]

Personal life[edit]

James had been convicted of three traffic violations and jailed prior to appearing on American Idol.[35] He was also involved in serious motorcycle accident in 2004 that left him with a broken left arm and wrist, and a right femur with multiple compound fracture, and he was in a wheelchair for six months.[36]

In 2005, James married Kellie Marie whom he met when he was nineteen at the Learning Tree Church in Mineral Wells, Texas.[37][38] The marriage however did not last and they divorced two years later. In August 2014, Casey married Kelli Pentzer and in February 2016 they had a daughter, in December 2017 they had a son and in October 2019 they had another daughter.[37][39][40][41]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart
US Country
Casey James
  • Genre: Country
  • Release date: March 20, 2012
  • Label: BNA Records/19
  • Formats: CD, digital download
2 23
Strip It Down
  • Genre: Blues
  • Release date: June 9, 2017[45]
  • Independent Release
  • Formats: CD, digital download


Year Single Peak chart positions Sales Album
US Country
US Country Airplay
2011 "Let's Don't Call It a Night"a 21 Casey James
2012 "Crying on a Suitcase" 24 14 88
2013 "The Good Life" 57
2015 "Fall Apart" 46 N/A
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
2011 "Let's Don't Call It a Night"[51] Roman White
2012 "Crying on a Suitcase"[52] TK McKamy
2015 "Fall Apart"[53]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Result
2012 American Country Awards Music Video of the Year: New Artist - "Let's Don't Call It a Night" Nominated


  1. ^ a b c "Casey James - Season 9 Contestants - American Idol". FOX. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  2. ^ "Happy Birthday, Casey James and Michael Lynche". FOX. June 1, 2010.
  3. ^ "Casey James: Independent Studio Album". Kickstarter. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  4. ^ "Happy 30th Birthday To Casey James – Watch A Very Special Tribute Video To Casey From A Fan Named Ana". The Country Site. May 31, 2011. Archived from the original on 2014-07-06. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  5. ^ Shari Geller (July 14, 2010). "In-Depth Interview with Casey James' Mother, Debra "Bybee" James -- Part One". Yahoo! Voices. Archived from the original on February 17, 2013.[unreliable source?]
  6. ^ a b "Rolling Stones Episode". American Idol. Season Nine. March 16, 2010. Fox.
  7. ^ Kelber, Sarah (March 16, 2010). "'American Idol': Top 12 perform". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  8. ^ Montgomery, James (May 19, 2010). "'American Idol' Finalist Casey James Was Always 'A Throwback' - News Story". MTV Networks.
  9. ^ Cluett, Libby (May 15, 2010). "You can go home". Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX. Community Newspaper Holdings.
  10. ^ Cantiello, Jim (March 12, 2010). "Casey James Profile: Can The Sex Symbol Become 'Idol' Champ?". MTV. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  11. ^ "Casey James's Sleepless (and Emotional) Texas-Sized Homecoming" Archived 2010-07-19 at the Wayback Machine. May 15, 2010. PEOPLE TV Watch. Time Inc.
  12. ^ "Casey James: The soundtrack to my life.". Idol Tracker. May 19, 2010. LA Times.
  13. ^ "Casey James turns into a triple threat with Gavin DeGraw and his guitar". USA Today: Idol Chatter. March 2, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  14. ^ "Bret Michaels And Casey James Hit It Off Right Away: The MTV News Quote Of The Day". June 3, 2010. MTV Newsroom. MTV Networks.
  15. ^ Mansfield, Brian (March 12, 2010). "Here's the scoop on the 'American Idol' Chosen 12". USA Today. Retrieved March 17, 2010. Casey James: Arguably the broadest musical background of the 12 and best guitar player the show has seen.
  16. ^ Mansfield, Brian (January 27, 2011). "Casey James to open for Sugarland". Idol Chatter. USA Today, a division of Gannett.
  17. ^ "Rihanna to Join Country Acts Partying with Sugarland at ACM Fan Jam". Academy of Country Music. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
  18. ^ "Casey James at CMA Music Fest 2011". Country Music Association. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
  19. ^ "It's official: Casey James signs with Sony Music Nashville". August 17, 2010. USA Today.
  20. ^ "Casey James Signs With 19 Recordings/BNA Records". August 17, 2010.
  21. ^ Herrera, Monica; Lipshutz, Jason; Mapes, Jillian (January 25, 2011). "Reznor, Rahman, Zimmer & More React to Their Oscar Nominations". Prometheus Global Media.
  22. ^ "ACE Title Search". ASCAP. Retrieved September 27, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ Cluett, Libby (May 25, 2011). "Casey James playing his way back home". Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX. Community Newspaper Holdings.
  24. ^ Mansfield, Brian (August 24, 2011). "Country singles lead 'Idol' track sales". Idol Chatter. USA Today, a division of Gannett.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-11. Retrieved 2012-02-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ Mansfield, Brian (January 20, 2012). "Casey James track list revealed". Idol Chatter. USA Today.
  27. ^ "Kenny Chesney Renews Deal With Sony, BNA Imprint Retired". June 4, 2012.
  28. ^ Stephen L. Betts (October 6, 2014). "Hear Casey James' Heartbreaking New Single 'Fall Apart'". Rolling Stone.
  29. ^ Rodney Ho (October 21, 2016). "Life after 'American Idol': Adam Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Casey James, Clay Aiken".
  30. ^ "Casey James: Independent Studio Album". Kickstarter.
  31. ^ Rainey Wetnight (November 29, 2017). "Casey James – Strip It Down | Album Review". Blust Blast Magazine. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  32. ^ Alexandra Veltri (November 29, 2017). "Casey James: Strip It Down Review". Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  33. ^ Mark Franklin (January 17, 2018). "Top 5 Post-American Idol Albums of 2017". Idol Chatter. York Dispatch. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  34. ^ Mark Franklin (June 13, 2017). "Casey James Cuts Loose On New, Blusier Album". Idol Chatter. York Dispatch. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  35. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: American Idol Hopeful Casey James' Jailbird Past". Radar Online. February 5, 2010.
  36. ^ "Ex-Wife of Casey James: Music is Singer's Life". The Hollywood Gossip. March 9, 2010.
  37. ^ a b "Surprise! Casey James is a married man – NashvilleGab". Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  38. ^ Shari Geller. "September 24, 2010". Archived from the original on 2013-02-17.[unreliable source?]
  39. ^ "Baby Makes Five for Casey James and His Wife Kelli Sounds Like Nashville". Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  40. ^ "Casey James and Wife Welcome Second Child Sounds Like Nashville". 2017-12-16. Retrieved 2020-03-15.
  41. ^ "Casey James Shows Off New Daughter with Adorable Photo". Taste of Country. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  42. ^ "Casey James Album & Song Chart History - Country Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 29, 2012.
  43. ^ Mansfield, Brian (2012-03-28). "'Idol' album sales: Clarkson, Daughtry, Studdard". Idol Chatter. USA Today. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
  44. ^ Mansfield, Brian (2013-04-21). "'Idol' sales: Scotty's new single, more". Idol Chatter. USA Today. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  45. ^ "Casey James talks new studio album 'Strip It Down,' new daughter (Includes interview)". 2017-06-07. Retrieved 2018-08-04.
  46. ^ "Casey James Album & Song Chart History - Country Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  47. ^ "Casey James Album & Song Chart History - Country Airplay". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  48. ^ "Casey James Album & Song Chart History - Hot 100". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  49. ^ Mansfield, Brian (2012-04-25). "'Idol' downloads: Clarkson, Underwood, Lambert". Idol Chatter. USA Today. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  50. ^ Mansfield, Brian (2013-03-13). "Angie Miller boosts Colton Dixon sales". Idol Chatter. USA Today. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  51. ^ "CMT : Videos : Casey James : Let's Don't Call It a Night". Country Music Television. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
  52. ^ "CMT : Videos : Casey James : Crying On A Suitcase". Country Music Television. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  53. ^ "CMT : Videos : Casey James : Fall Apart". Country Music Television. Retrieved February 27, 2015.

External links[edit]