Thursday, October 10, 2019 · Rose Music Hall, Columbia, MO
Doors: 7:30 pm · Show: 8:30 pm
$8 in Advance // $10 Day of Show
(plus applicable fees and/or taxes)
“For a long time, I wouldn’t mix music and politics, but I reached the point where I realized I shouldn’t be ashamed for speaking up,” Shawn says. “All the craziness is what inspired me to speak up, to try to live a moral life in spite of it.” In “The Weak End” and “The Curse of the Fold,” James urges us to embrace our vulnerability in the midst of those who would take advantage, urging us never to give up, to keep going, and not just turn our cards over. “Without music, I honestly don’t know where I would be right now,” admits Shawn. “I was lucky I had something to bleed into, to cope with the struggles of my everyday life.” After James’ father died, his Greek stepfather introduced him to the Pentecostal church, where his vocal talent was recognized immediately and put to use in the choir. A child prodigy, Shawn entered a number of vocal competitions, with a multi-octave range that makes him unique as an artist. He didn’t start playing acoustic guitar until high school and didn’t start writing songs seriously until he was in his mid-twenties. Studying classical music helped him hone his vocal technique, but he learned to let loose emotionally in church. “I had the mix of both worlds,” he says. Much of those ministers’ fiery rhetoric resonated with James, whose music offers a congregation with no borders or boundaries. “I’ve found that my songs with the biggest impact are the ones that inspire people, and try to lift them up,” he says. “Fans tell me how these songs saved their lives. Is there any greater accomplishment than that? I fully embraced that on this album. These days, people need encouragement, and I just wanted to contribute.” The new album is James’ fourth solo effort, following his 2012 debut, Shadows, 2014’s Deliverance and 2016’s On the Shoulders of Giants, in addition to a live release (Live at the Heartbreak House) and a two-song covers EP recorded while on tour in Madrid (including set staples “That’s Life” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”). His songs have been featured on HBO, CBS and Sony Playstation’s The Last of Us 2 videogame, with the track, “Through the Valley,” topping Spotify’s Global Viral Charts, while generating more than 60 million streams combined on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. More recently, he recorded a soulful take on Macy Gray’s Grammy-winning “I Try” for Grammy.com’s “Grammy Reimagined” series. Shawn maintains a busy slate of performances in the U.S. and abroad. “I love touring because I want to earn what I get, work for it every day,” says Shawn, admitting that’s the hard-hat blue-collar attitude he inherited from his biological dad. “I enjoy the struggle because that’s what makes it all worthwhile. “I enjoy meeting and talking to new people. I don’t hide in the green room before and after the show. I’m out there shaking hands, pressing the flesh, and hearing their stories. That’s the reason we do this.” Pointing to “authentic” performers like Tom Waits (“He has an impeccable ‘no bullshit’ compass”), soul singers like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke or Bill Withers, and the old blues icons who inspired him, James explains, “They weren’t precious about what they did; they didn’t put themselves on a pedestal. I want my music to be respected, but I’ll still sit down at the bar to have a beer with you. My goal is to make music that stands the test of time.” With The Dark & the Light, Shawn James has done just that. He has flipped the script, moving from darkness to light on the strength of song.