Jim James Biography
James grew up in the Highlands-Douglass neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky. He attended St. Martha grade school and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1996. James briefly attended the University of Kentucky, studying art.
Prior to forming My Morning Jacket, James was the vocalist and guitarist of Month of Sundays, currently known as Mont de Sundua.
As the vocalist, frontman, producer and lead songwriter for My Morning Jacket, James has been instrumental in defining the sound of the band, from the haunting reverb of The Tennessee Fire to the amalgam of reggae, Americana, and folk that was the Z, which he co-produced with John Leckie. He was given an "Esky" for best songwriter in Esquire's 2006 Esky Music Awards in the April issue.
James typically plays rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, and occasional lead guitar on My Morning Jacket songs. He played the role of the band leader in the Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There, singing the song "Going to Acapulco", with Calexico as his backing band, which was featured on the soundtrack of the film. Rolling Stone listed James among their "20 New Guitar Gods" along with fellow My Morning Jacket guitarist Carl Broemel. In 2008, James, along with former My Morning Jacket guitarist and cousin Johnny Quaid, formed Removador Recordings and Solutions record label. The label, as described on its website, functions "on the simple principal of yielding the highest annual percentage of aural joy back into the hearts and minds of investors and shareholders with ease and convenience". He contributed vocals on The Decemberists' 2009 album The Hazards of Love.
On April 4, 2009, James performed at the Radio City Music Hall, New York City, in the "Change Begins Within" concert benefitting the David Lynch Foundation.
On July 7, 2009, James released Tribute To, an EP covering George Harrison songs. A portion of the proceeds from the album were donated to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. The EP was available on yimyames.com as both a digital download and a physical CD/LP.
In 2009, James and the rest of My Morning Jacket played themselves in "My Morning Straitjacket", an episode of the animated television series American Dad!
In 2012, Rounder Records released the Woody Guthrie tribute album New Multitudes which features songs covered by a variety of musicians including James (as Yim Yames) and Jay Farrar. James wrote an article on My Morning Jacket, discussing how the band got its name and growing up in Louisville, for the July 2012 issue of Louisville magazine. Bandmates Patrick Hallahan and Tom Blankenship also wrote articles for the issue.
James released his debut solo full-length album, Regions of Light and Sound of God, on ATO Records on February 5, 2013.
In early 2014 James recorded for Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes alongside Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Taylor Goldsmith and Rhiannon Giddens. The album was produced by T-Bone Burnett and is a compilation of partial songs written by Bob Dylan that were never released.
On November 5, 2015, the David Lynch Foundation organised another benefit concert at New York City's Carnegie Hall named "Change Begins Within" to promote transcendental meditation for stress control. Jim James participates as Katy Perry, Sting, Jerry Seinfeld, Angelique Kidjo, and classical guitarist Sharon Isbin. And since each of the performers actively practices transcendental meditation, they also spoke to its power.
James was raised Catholic and attended Catholic grade school and high school. He has been practicing Transcendental Meditation since 2009.