The Derry, New Hampshire-native started his professional career in New York City. An early champion of his refreshing folk-based sound was Carly Simon, who personally called and invited him for a duet session at her house in Martha’s Vineyard. “I couldn’t believe she called me, her music played in my house all the time as a kid,” James marvels. Simon and James recorded a duet called “Let The River Run” that was streamed during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway.
In 2005 James signed to Capitol Records, but his tracks went into major label purgatory during the 2007 Capitol/Virgin merger. He emerged a free agent and independently issued the EP, The Ballroom Break-in, and his debut full-length, The Day is Brave, before signing to Decca Records in 2008. Brendan re-released his debut and his second album, Brendan James, on Decca Records. During this formative time he played over 300 shows, building a robust fanbase touring with such diverse artists as John Mayer, Paula Cole, Keb Mo, Parachute, and Matt White. James garnered widespread exposure through his songs being featured on television shows such as Private Practice, American Idol, Bones, So You Think You Can Dance, Army Wives, and One Tree Hill. He also made TV appearances on Rachael Ray and CBS Sunday Morning. Both Brendan James albums climbed the iTunes Top 10 pop chart- James’ sophomore album, Brendan James, climbed to #1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts.
In 2011, Decca had to part ways with James due to budget cuts. Already tired of the industry’s constant grind, the break in partnership lead James to rethink his life and, ultimately, rediscover his muse. “I had this summer where I decided to say yes to everything that wasn’t music. I went skydiving, shot shotguns, went to Alaska,” James says. “For the first time in my life, I was free, and I thought, ‘Maybe I wont do music at all,’ but it led to my most creative year.” Prior to his artistic hiatus, he met producer Max Coane (Julian Coryell additionally produced tracks) whose deep commitment to James and his music didn’t waiver even when James’ own self-belief did. James says: “Max was a beacon of hope and energy.” Looking back, James says, “I was not happy and I was willing to walk away from everything.” Thankfully, he found strength to carry on in Hope In Transition, released in 2012.