James is from Lochinver in the Parish of Assynt in the far Northwest corner of Sutherland. He started competing at Mods from as early as 9 years old under the guidance of his Primary School head-teacher, Kenny Mackenzie. He was greatly inspired also by his great Aunt Seordag Murray, a native Gaelic speaker from the nearby village of Achilitibuie, with whom he spent hour upon hour learning songs and listening to her fascinating stories and life experiences.
After leaving Lochinver Primary School, James attended Ullapool High School where the late Norman Gillies taught him the bagpipes. James maintained his interest in Gaelic song throughout his secondary school years and subsequently, gained a place on the BA Scottish Music course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.
There he studied Gaelic song under the respected Gaelic singer and scholar Kenna Campbell and bagpipes as a subsidiary study. James graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2003 with an Honours degree in Scottish Music. He continues to learn songs from Kenna and receives lessons from her on a regular basis.
In 2004 James won the BBC Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award - the first male and first Gaelic singer to do so. He has since appeared in several successful and award winning television and radio music series, including ‘Transatlantic Sessions 4’. He has released two acclaimed solo albums and has been nominated twice in the category of ‘Best Gaelic Singer’ at the Scottish Traditional Music Awards. In 2007 James won the coveted Mod Gold Medal in Lochaber, the highest accolade for men’s solo singing at the Royal National Mod. He completed two years of further study at the Gaelic college, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on the Isle of Skye, gaining an HND in Gaelic language and culture. James was also employed by Falkirk Council as 'Mod Events Officer' assisting in co-coordinating the Royal National Mod, which was hosted by Falkirk in 2008 for the first time in its history.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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