Songwriter/Producer James Day grew up listening to the great soul performers and producers of the 70s, and idolized artists such as Chaka Kahn and Quincy Jones. His dream was to become a professional stage singer and dancer, and in the 80s he attended New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts to pursue that dream. Tragically, while in school he was diagnosed with Meniers Syndrome, a debilitating disease that resulted in severe bouts of dizziness and his loss of hearing in one ear. The disease essentially felled him for over two years and caused a necessary change in his life plan.
Day looked to his love of music as a way to get his life back on track, and he built a home recording studio and began working exclusively toward becoming a songwriter and producer. His hard work over the next decade paid off, as he achieved critical success, winning the Billboard Magazine's International Songwriting Competition, the John Lennon Song Contest, and an award from the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriter's Hall of Fame presented by legendary songwriter Hal David. As the 90s and early 00s went on, he landed songs on a number of major label artist albums and compilations as well as network television shows.
Despite the success he was having, Day's observations of the state of modern music left him extremely frustrated. "The LP's I grew up with, full of rich chords, moving melodies, lush vocal arrangements, and well crafted lyrics, had been replaced by CD's put together by track makers, beat programmers and samplers with words 'slapped on' that rarely seemed to move me the way the music I grew up with did. It just didn't seem to have the same level of care & musicianship that went into the records of my idols." So Day made it his mission to re-establish the role of the songwriter and arranger in popular music. Working on a shoestring budget but with a passion for his project, in 2005 Day recruited a number of established vocalists and put together his first project, the four-song EP Remember When.
Day's goal for Remember When was to re-create a hot 80s groove around well-performed, superbly-crafted, infectiously melodic songs - and to use this as a springboard for future larger projects. And in that regard it was an unadulterated success. While budgetary constraints unfortunately limited the amount of organic instrumentation on the EP, Day left no no question as to his capability as a songwriter, especially on the excellent opening number, "Brick By Brick" (featuring Audrey Wheeler), and the first single, "Don't Waste the Pretty" (with Jeff Ramsey), both of which are marvelous songs that are worthy of radio airplay. Remember When was released in late 2005 and almost immediately struck a nerve in the underground soul movement, especially in Europe where the disc has been a smash.
Day followed Remember When with Better Days, an excellent full debut album that reworked the cuts from Remember When and added a basketful of great new compositions. In early 2007 Day cut more songs and prepared a reworked Better Days for release in the US.
Day continued is uncanny ability to attract ubertalented guests on 2009's, Natural Things, with a featured cast including Audrey Wheeler, Mikelyn Roderick, Walter Beasley, Gavin Christopher, Ian Martin, Jeff Ramsey and more. The album moved from pop to soul to funk beautifully and, with cuts like "Outta The Funk," the smooth "Speak Love" and the title track, was another fine representation of Day's strong songwriting skills.
In 2013, Day released Seasons and Reasons just in time for the holiday season. In addition to some of the guest vocalists from his prior albums, he brought in longtime favorites Trina Broussard and Donnie as well as up-and-coming singers Cleveland Jones and Karen Fiore, for an album that paid tribute to pop, soul and dance sounds of the 80s. It was another indie hit.
Day is currently working on collaborations with a number of additional stars, including Maysa, and plans the release of an album of new songs and remixes of old hits, scheduled for release in the Spring of 2016 and tentatively titled Repertoire.
By Chris Rizik