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This tale comes right out of the inner soul of American music. It reads like the street-level truth in the lyrics of a Gershwin classic. What kind of artist finds their way to Chicago after having learned licks on a guitar from a Tennessee guy named "Catfish?" What kind of artist hones powerful vocals in a church choir, and then translates that emotion into a deep understanding of RnB, with Rock n Roll Soul? Jan James is that kind of artist.
Raised in central Michigan on a family-run fishing resort, Jan's talent was obvious early on."The more I played guitar and the more I tried out the voice I learned to use in the church choir," says Jan, "the more I liked it." And so did everyone else. She was continually invited to sing at public gatherings and like all the great artists-the seduction and thrill of performing onstage soon matched her talent.
Jan met her partner, songwriter/guitarist Craig Calvert, while they were both attending Michigan State. She was working in a duo, performing regularly at a small cafe. When she needed to replace her guitar player, the timing was right. It was not only right, it was perfect. Craig was taking a break from his punk band; they met and developed a musical chemistry that has evolved into a big sound and feel that is colored with RnB, blues, soul and the sweet dynamics of the best rock.
After their performances together established a solid reputation for them in the Detroit area, Jan was voted "Best Female Vocalist" by the Detroit Metro Times.
Continuing their legend-laced journey, they moved to Chicago. The big city blues capital was good to them, and they to it. They became favorites in such venues as The Park West, Buddy Guy's Blues Legends, Taste of Chicago and The House of Blues. They shared the stage with Bon Jovi, Koko Taylor, John Mayall, Little Feat, James Brown, Alice Cooper, Jeff Beck and B.B. King. They cut their first demo, a powerhouse CD called "Last Train," picked up by the Dutch label Provogue, in yet another example of the wide appeal that American music has throughout the world.
Jan launched a promotional tour of acoustic and electric performances aired on radio and television throughout The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Scandanavia, along with a feature on NBC's television program, Talking Blues. The press raved: "Voices of the caliber of Jan James are rare in today's pop music" and "Her upbeat rock, RnB, blues is exceptionally radio-friendly and very stylishly executed." More albums followed: "Soul Desire," "Color of the Rose," "Limousine Blues," “Drive Me Home,” “Live at the Intersection” all of which enjoyed critical acclaim.
Comparisons to legendary artists are often soaked in hype and are sometimes unfair both to the legend and to the musician who is carrying on the legacy. But sometimes they are necessary. Sometimes they must be made; not just for the sake of similarity but for the sake of the importance that keeping something so stark and vital alive means to the art.
Jan performed at Chicago's Royal George Theater in the starring role of Janis Joplin in a play based on Janis’ letters and songs. Along with the standing ovations there was so much more. There was the aura of a major talent. There was not only the power of what Janis had left for us, there was the power in what Jan James now does brilliantly.
Jan's newest CD, "Ring Around The Moon," is a pure and commanding showcase of her heritage and her talent from start to finish. Each and every cut demonstrates just how good and polished a singer/songwriter she is. This is what modern music should be.
This is Jan James.