James Bay (singer)

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James Bay
Bay performing live in 2022
Bay performing live in 2022
Background information
Birth nameJames Michael Bay
Born (1990-09-04) 4 September 1990 (age 32)
Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England
  • Singer-songwriter
  • guitarist
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active2013–present

James Michael Bay[1] (born 4 September 1990) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist.[2][3][4] In 2014, he released his single "Hold Back the River", which was certified platinum, before releasing his debut studio album Chaos and the Calm (2014). The album went to number one in the UK and number 15 in the US. In February 2015, Bay received the Brit Awards "Critics' Choice" award.[5] At the 2016 Brit Awards he received the award for Best British Male Solo Artist.[6] Bay also received three nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards, for Best New Artist, Best Rock Album, and Best Rock Song. In May 2018, he released his second studio album, Electric Light.

Early life[edit]

James Bay was born to Jill, a former fashion illustrator for Marie Claire, and Nick Bay, a wine merchant.[7][8] He has an older brother named Alex.[9] Bay's parents brought him up in Hitchin, Hertfordshire where he attended Hitchin Boys' School. Aged 11, Bay was inspired to play classical guitar after hearing Eric Clapton's "Layla".[10] He used an old rusty guitar with five strings he found in a cupboard in his house.[11] Bay is a supporter of Newcastle United F.C.[12]

When he moved to study in Brighton at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute seven years later at age 18 he played the city's open mic nights, on which he said, "That taught me a lot about writing and performing on my own and trying to hold my own". "I'm trying to make songs that make people feel something, and if I'm lucky, even move them".

Bay caught the attention of Republic Records A&R after a fan uploaded a video to YouTube of him performing at an open mic in London, and within a week, he signed to the label. His first EP, The Dark of the Morning, was released in 2013. Within a year, he was selling out his first UK headline tour.[10]


2013–2017: Career beginnings and Chaos and the Calm[edit]

Bay released his debut extended play, The Dark of the Morning, on 18 July 2013. His second EP, Let It Go, was released on 12 May 2014.[13] The Let It Go EP debuted in the top 10 iTunes album chart[14] and the lead single, titled "Let It Go", peaked at number 10 in the UK charts.[15] Bay has performed live on the Burberry runway and has also recorded a Burberry Acoustic session.[16] He toured with Hozier in 2014.[17]

Bay recorded his entire debut studio album Chaos and the Calm at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, with producer Jacquire King.[18] It debuted at number one in the UK charts and has been certified X2 platinum.[19] His single "Hold Back the River" peaked at number 2 in the UK charts and was certified X3 platinum.[20][21]

Bay performing in 2016

In January 2015, Bay released his fourth EP, Other Sides. He performed on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival in June 2015.[22] At the 2016 Brit Awards in London on 24 February, he received the award for Best British Male Solo Artist, and also performed "Love Yourself" with Justin Bieber at the ceremony.[6] Bay recorded a cover of the Beatles song "Hey Bulldog" for the 2016 TV series Beat Bugs. He recorded a cover of the Tom Petty song "King's Highway" for the 2017 Disney/Pixar film Cars 3. It is heard in the film and is included on the official soundtrack album.

2018–2019: Electric Light[edit]

Bay released his second studio album, Electric Light, on 18 May 2018.[23] It peaked at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart and 21 on the US Billboard 200.[24][25] The album has notable pop and R&B influences,[26] and was noted for its "hip hip style spoken-word skits" during intervals.[27] The lead single, "Wild Love", was released on 8 February 2018, and peaked at 39 on the UK Singles Chart and 17 on the US Adults Top 40. Bay released a duet version of the album's third single, "Us", performed on The Voice with Alicia Keys in May 2018.[28] Bay released a single, "Peer Pressure", on February 22, 2019, featuring artist Julia Michaels.[29] On 10 May 2019, he released his third EP, Oh My Messy Mind, the first record of his to be immediately released on streaming.[30] On the same day, the single "Bad" was released.

2020–present: Leap[edit]

In the spring of 2020, Bay began making his third studio album in Nashville at the historic RCA Studio A alongside producer Dave Cobb, and collaborated with Brandon Flowers of the Killers during recording.[31] He released the single "Chew On My Heart" in July 2020.[32] Later that month, he streamed a live performance in support of the #SaveOurVenues campaign, to support efforts against the economic threat posed to grassroots venues during the COVID-19 pandemic.[33][34]


Bay endorses and plays Tone King amplifiers, a boutique amplifier brand of Premier Builders Guild.[35] In 2017, he released his Epiphone Signature "1966" Century Outfit, an accurate recreation of his customized 1966 Epiphone Century guitar which has James Bay's "Hat Man" logo on the headstock and custom strap.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Bay has been in a relationship with Lucy Smith, a music promoter, since he was 17 years old.[37][38] The couple have a daughter, named Ada Violet Bay, born in October 2021.[39] They got married in August 2022.[40]


Studio albums



  • Chaos and the Calm Tour (2015–16)[41]
  • Electric Light Tour (2018–2019)[42]
  • Leap Tour (2022)[43]

Opening act[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Organisation Award Work Result Ref.
2015 Brit Awards Critics' Choice Himself Won [47]
MTV UK Brand New for 2015 Himself Nominated [48]
BBC BBC Sound of 2015 Himself Nominated [49][50]
MTV Video Music Awards Artist to Watch "Hold Back the River" Nominated [51]
MTV Europe Music Awards Best New Act Himself Nominated
Best Push Act Nominated
GQ Men of The Year Breakthrough Solo Artist Himself Won [52]
Q Awards Best New Act Himself Won [53]
2016 Grammy Awards Best New Artist Himself Nominated
Best Rock Album Chaos and the Calm Nominated
Best Rock Song "Hold Back the River" Nominated
BRIT Awards British Breakthrough Act Himself Nominated
British Male Solo Artist Won
British Single of the Year "Hold Back the River" Nominated
British Album of the Year Chaos and the Calm Nominated
Echo Music Prize Best International Newcomer Himself Won [54]
Ivor Novello Awards Most Performed Work "Hold Back the River" Won [55]
Q Awards Best Solo Artist Himself Won [56]
2019 GAFFA-Prisen Awards Best International Artist Nominated [57]
Best International Album Electric Light Nominated


  1. ^ Bay, James Michael. "Songwriter/Composer: BAY JAMES MICHAEL". Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  2. ^ "New Music – Kimberley Anne, James Bay, Little Bear". The Irish Times. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  3. ^ "BBC Introducing – On the playlist: James Bay". BBC. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  4. ^ Young, Richard (28 May 2010). "Hitchin guitarist 'One to watch' says EMI boss". The Comet. Archant Community Media. Archived from the original on 7 June 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  5. ^ "Brit Awards 2015: Winners list". BBC. Retrieved 26 February 2015
  6. ^ a b "Brit Awards 2016: Adele dominates with four awards". BBC. 25 February 2016.
  7. ^ "British Singer James Bay is Ready to Conquer 'the Biggest Prize of All' -- America". Billboard.
  8. ^ "Can James Bay prove he's not just another middle-of-the-road, boring boy with a guitar?". Independent.co.uk. 20 March 2015.
  9. ^ "James Bay: What I know about women". 14 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Who is James Bay?". 4 December 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2015.
  11. ^ Maeve Quigley (9 October 2015). "Modest James Bay not carried away with his quick-fire success". irishmirror. Archived from the original on 31 October 2015.
  12. ^ Mitchinson, Rory (2 September 2019). "'The atmosphere was incredible in there' - James Bay on United's win at Spurs". Newcastle United F.C. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  13. ^ "A Name to Remember: James Bay is a voice that you just won't forget". Her. Archived from the original on 11 September 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  14. ^ "James Bay premieres new single 'Hold Back The River'". Music-News.com.
  15. ^ "James Bay, artist". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
  16. ^ Bayley, Leanne. "James Bay sang at Burberry SS15 show – but who is he?". Glamour Magazine UK. Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  17. ^ Bedian, Knar (14 November 2014). "Painted Faces and Fantastic Pipes: James Bay". Sound of Boston. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  18. ^ "James Bay announces debut album". NME. 11 December 2014.
  19. ^ "James Bay, Chaos and the Calm, Album - bpi". Archived from the original on 15 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 (29 March 2015 – 4 April 2015). Official Charts. Retrieved 21 July 2015
  21. ^ "BRIT Certified". BPI. Retrieved 19 January 2022.
  22. ^ "James Bay, Glastonbury, review: 'One Direction didn't steal the show'". The Telegraph. 26 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Electric Light by James Bay" – via itunes.apple.com.
  24. ^ "James Bay Chart History". Billboard.
  25. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com.
  26. ^ Duerden, Nick (8 March 2018). "James Bay interview: 'Do I really want to wander around the world with the hat and the long hair for another four years? No'". inews.co.uk.
  27. ^ Bassett, Jordan (18 May 2018). "James Bay – 'Electric Light' album review". NME.
  28. ^ "James Bay, Alicia Keys - Us (The Voice 2018)". 23 May 2018 – via YouTube.
  29. ^ "James Bay - Peer Pressure (Audio) ft. Julia Michaels". 21 February 2019 – via YouTube.
  30. ^ Moss, Rich (13 May 2019). "Atwood Magazine". James Bay's Beautifully Heartbreaking 'Oh My Messy Mind' EP.
  31. ^ "James Bay on new single 'Chew On My Heart'". 9 July 2020 – via NME.
  32. ^ Pipa, Alexa (14 July 2020). "Song You Need to Know: James Bay, 'Chew On My Heart'". Rolling Stone.
  33. ^ Moore, Sam (27 April 2020). "Music Venue Trust launches 'Save Our Venues' campaign". NME. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  34. ^ "In support of the #SaveOurVenues campaign, I'm going to be performing a live set online for you this Thursday!". Instagram. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  35. ^ "'Chaos and the Calm': James Bay Talks Songwriting, Opening for the Stones and More". Guitar World. 12 June 2015.
  36. ^ "James Bay Epiphone Century". Epiphone. 30 June 2017.
  37. ^ "James Bay on the 'fantastic drama' of fame". BBC News. 11 July 2020.
  38. ^ "James Bay: What I know about women".
  39. ^ Slater, Georgia. "James Bay Welcomes First Baby, Daughter Ada Violet with Partner Lucy Smith: 'We Are So in Love'". People. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  40. ^ "Hitchin singer James Bay marries childhood sweetheart of 15 years". 15 August 2022.
  41. ^ "Chaos and the Calm Tour Dates Announced! – James Bay". James Bay. Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  42. ^ "Electric Light Tour Dates Announced – James Bay". NME. Retrieved 7 March 2018.
  43. ^ "James Bay Announce New Tour". NME. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  44. ^ "Taylor Swift Announces James Bay And Vance Joy As Support For 1989 Tour | MTV UK". MTV UK. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  45. ^ "Rolling Stones announce huge list of special guests for their 2018 UK tour". Independent.co.uk. 23 April 2018. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  46. ^ "Ed Sheeran's 2019 UK and European tour support acts announced as The Darkness, James Bay and Zara Larsson". officialcharts.com. 31 January 2019. Retrieved 31 January 2019.
  47. ^ "Critic's Choice Winner Announced". Brit Awards. 4 December 2014.
  48. ^ "MTV's Brand New For 2015 Nominees announced". MTV. 24 November 2014.
  49. ^ "BBC Music Sound of 2015 longlist revealed". BBC. 1 December 2014.
  50. ^ "BBC Music Sound of 2015: James Bay". BBC News. 8 January 2015.
  51. ^ "2015 MTV Video Music Awards Nominees Revealed: Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Ed Sheeran & More". Billboard. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  52. ^ "BREAKTHROUGH SOLO ARTIST: JAMES BAY". GQ. 8 September 2015.
  53. ^ "Bay picked up Q Best New Act, presented by Orange Amplification". Q. 20 October 2015. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
  54. ^ "James Bay wins the ECHO for International Newcomer". ECHO Awards. 15 April 2016. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  55. ^ "Winners Announced for the 61st Ivor Novello Awards". The Ivors. 19 May 2016. Archived from the original on 23 May 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  56. ^ "Q Awards 2016: Muse, Bastille and James Bay win big as Madness enter Hall of Fame". London Evening Standard. 22 November 2016.
  57. ^ "GAFFA-Prisen – Og vinderne er..." gaffa.dk (in Danish). Retrieved 4 March 2020.

External links[edit]