Sam James is one of four contestants who will be appear on the series premiere of NBC’s Songland. James will pitch his composition to John Legend, in the hopes that the Grammy winner chooses to record and release it. Read on to learn more about James and his songwriting career up to this point.
James hails from Worcester, MA, and his bio states that his surroundings helped shape his outlook as a child. The local industrial economy, and its hard working local populace, motivated him to go after his passions, and reflect his hometown authenticity in his lyrics. James said that he decided he was going to be an artist after he attended a Dave Matthews Band concert at age 13.
Sam James Cites Neil Young & Dave Matthews As Huge Influences on His Songwriting
“Matthews really resonated with me growing up. His lyrics, his guitar style,” James explained. “I learned how to play guitar by locking myself in my room and playing along to his albums. I never had any formal lessons, and I did everything by ear. Some of his early work really shaped the way that I hear and feel music.” James also cites folk-rock icons like Neil Young and James Taylor as major influences.
“Their artistry impacts me daily to live with that intent of taking my playing, whether it be on guitar, piano, banjo, bass or mandolin, and not a waste a word or note in expressing something real that I hope with sincerity resonated with those that come across my music,” he said. “The music was pure, it was real. It wasn’t some contrived thing made to sell units or to be on the Billboard 100. The people coming out of that stereo really meant what they said, and wrote songs for the love of music.”
James Previously Appeared on Adam Levine’s Team During ‘The Voice’ Season 3
Songland will not be the first time that James has appeared on a TV competition. He auditioned for season three of The Voice, where he was selected for Adam Levine’s team. (Levine is an executive producer on Songland). James was ultimately eliminated from The Voice, but he said the experience being on a national stage was invaluable. “When you are on a television singing show you get lost in the shuffle most times,” he recalled. “I was not nearly as confident then as I am now, and although I knew what/who I wanted to be creatively, I did not know how to achieve those goals. The Voice moves so quickly.”
“Looking back, it was only a quick moment. Over the last two years I have learned so much, not only about myself as an artist, but about the music business itself,” he continued. “I learned to make music that I respected and loved. You cannot go into recording an album thinking ‘will the public like this?’ That was always my mistake. I wanted to be like other artists instead of finding myself and being true to my own music… I am committed to staying true to myself, and if you aren’t happy with your music, than nobody else will be. I finally found myself, and this record reflects that.”