Tony Cummings reports on a singer/songwriter from Sacramento, JOSIAH JAMES
There are hundreds, possibly thousands of singer/songwriters playing the clubs, campuses and coffeehouses of California. But few have received such critical acclaim as multi-instrumentalist Josiah James. His batch of recordings and several hundred live gigs have stacked up the accolades and both Christian and non-Christian reviewers have praised his songwriting craft and ability to speak spiritual truth which resonate with Joe Public. Last year Cross Rhythms were playing his fine single "Sinking Ships", a song popularised on the bestselling Lincoln Brewster album 'Oxygen', the James original found on his 2014 EP 'Identity' being even better than Brewster's version. Now an earlier Josiah James track, "Distant Lights" taken from his 2012 album 'All Forgotten Things', is riding high on the Cross Rhythms playlist.
Josiah spoke to journalist Ryan Gutowski about the thinking which went into 'All Forgotten Things'. "I look at 'All Forgotten Things' as a CD I made to remind myself and people of the many things we forgot about our first love, Christ. We forget that HE is all we need. HE needs to be our identity to have our own identity in the world. HE is the reason for our existence and HE deserves all of me. I grew up in a Christian family, so I grew up hearing stories of Israel in the Bible and how they lived among God, saw angels, rivers parted and thousands of miracles, yet they still wasted their time turning away from God to worship a golden bull. As a kid I'd think "What the poo guys!! Are you stupid?!" But the more I look at it, I realize how dumb I am for falling for the things of this world and living for idols as opposed to falling for God and his perfect goodness."
Along with his Cross Rhythms radio hit another outstanding example of Josiah's songwriting craft is "Open Your Eyes". Said James, "'Open Your Eyes' is a song that took me an entire year to write. I had written and re-written it about five times. I didn't know what I wanted it to be about until I attended an event by Courage To Be You about human sex slavery. I was shocked and hit hard with the statistics and the new knowledge that thousands of girls are trafficked through the area of Sacramento where I'm from. I decided I knew what the song was going to be about. The idea behind 'Open Your Eyes' is about people not living life for themselves. There's nothing more pointless in life then to be selfish. We are all called to GIVE. Give our time, resources and love. To give is to gain. These girls need our love and our time to save them.
Born in Sacramento, California, Josiah was very much a child protégé. By the age of 14 he was writing songs as well as showing advanced skills with the guitar and piano. Josiah first picked up the guitar when he was in junior high; soon he was writing his own music, recording and, eventually, performing his own music. Josiah released his first full-length CD, 'Alive In The Studio' at the tender age of 16 and two years later delivered his second project, 'Awaiting The Morning'. In spring 2009, Josiah released his debut full band CD, 'The Morning Light', produced and recorded by Colby Wedgeworth (Lybecker, Bidwell).
After two years, 12 tours from coast to coast and 5,000 records sold independently, Josiah stepped up to the plate with two concept mini-albums inspired by the elements air and water, working with producers Colby Wedgeworth and Danny Donnelly (Sherri Youngward, Scott Cunningham) on 'Chasing The Wind' (air) followed by 'Oceans' (water) with producer Ralph Stover (Natalie Grant, Point Of Grace). Then, in 2012, came his fine 'All Forgotten Things' followed by a Christmas EP 'Heaven Came Down'. 2014's 'Identity' EP features another gem apart from "Sinking Ships". Over a looping percussion track on the song "All I Need" Josiah sings "Your arms stretch wider than time and space/Your love speaks louder in every way/Your eyes look past my broken heart."
Despite being on the road for weeks at a time Josiah remained steadfast in his determination not to slip into bad habits that can so easily overtake the itinerant musician. He explained, "I keep in heavy contact with my family while on the road. They keep me in check. Especially my lovely mother. I see friends practically every day while on the road and am always in fellowship with people that are close to me and love Jesus. I rarely go a day without seeing a good friend. When I'm driving alone I listen to audio sermons, books and spend time in prayer. When I'm in the back seat of a van it opens up a lot more time to read books and the Word."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.