James Lee Baker

Tell us about yourself. 

I was born in Texas and spent over a decade working in the IT industry, mainly in software engineering. I enjoy songwriting and recording, traveling, fine dining, and the outdoors. I have two children and am married to a beautiful woman from Russia who is a Spanish teacher here in the states.

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Tell us about yourself as an artist. 

I have been performing in some form of music since early childhood. In the summertime, my parents would send me to a music camp where I learned basic theory and ear training at a young age. I started vocal competitions in middle school and picked up the guitar at 16 years old. I have been writing songs since I was 18. I strive to write rich lyrics and original ideas that others can relate to.

I enjoy playing in multiple tuning including Open D and Open G, along with standard tuning. I aspire to be a contemporary Americana singer and find house concerts and listening rooms to be my favorite places to perform.

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Tell us about the genre of your music. 

This particular project falls in the genres of Americana and Country. I moved back to Texas to be closer to family and focus on the music and felt compelled to put together a project that the folks here can connect with. Going forward, I intend to focus on Contemporary Folk and Singer-Songwriter genres.

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Tell us about the story behind your song. 

This song was an exercise in writing something other than a love song. I wanted to talk about the often unspoken struggles of growing up and this song was the result of that focus. Though it doesn’t talk about struggle too much, it does delve into the feeling one has of knowing that some experience is once-in-a-lifetime moment. As an adult, I look back on those moments and, had I know what I know now, I would have cherished those moments more.

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Tell us the challenges you are facing as a musician. 

Quite frankly, my greatest challenges are facing the overwhelming amount of rejection that artists face and also being heard. Because there is so much music out there today, it’s more difficult to stand out in a crowd.

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Tell us about the recording and production of the song. 

This song was produced by Christopher J. Bloom at SoundStructure Studios in Denver, Colorado. Several of the instruments, such as the electric guitar and steel guitar, were recorded by Toby Wilson – an independent Fiverr.com session player based out of the UK. This project, including this song, was an experiment in working with session musicians over the internet to compose a song. Doing so kept the costs down, gave us more options for instrumentation (we had two versions of the song), and allowed us to streamline work faster.

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Tell us the names of blogs, radio or TV stations that have supported you so far. 

So far, I’ve had the opportunity to perform on the regional NPR station that covers the Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Kansas areas (HPPR). Along with several studio performances and interviews there, I’ve performed at the local NBC channel in Amarillo, Texas on their 5pm news show. Past online editorials include ReviewPosse.com and SongwriterUniverse.com

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Tell us more about your music career, experience and future goal. 

I have been writing, performing, and recording in some form as a songwriter since 18 years of age. I have spent time in Colorado, California, and Texas building a fan base and getting to know the music scenes. My hope is to move to Nashville or Austin in 2018 and invest more time into growing as a writer and performer. Long-term, I would like to focus on listening rooms and house concerts, as the crowds are receptive to the dynamic of live performance.

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Tell us what inspires you to write, compose and sing. 

I find inspiration in many small observations in life. For my song “The Canadian River”, I was compelled to write about the red clay that is found in the Texas panhandle. I tend to keep some application or notepad with me to write songs. I also focus on writing prompts and exercises when I get stuck.

I’m inspired as a musician because I love music. I would consider myself an audiophile. I have a large collection of music (over 100 GB) that I’ve collected since I was a child. I listen to everything from Bob Dylan to Metallica.

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Tell us the secret behind making a hit song. 

In my opinion, the secret to writing a hit song is editing to create rich and original lyrics and melody. Often, my songs go through many changes over time until I find the right lyrics and melody to fit the song. The best songs aren’t written, they’re edited.

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Tell the kind of advice you will give to an upcoming artist.

Always strive to improve yourself and try to be the weakest person in the room, as Tim Ferris says. Far too often we get confident in what we produce and then shrug off criticism, which stunts our ability to grow and become better artists. Take voice lessons, even if you have a great voice; Learn music theory; Embrace rejection as a tool for growth and weed out the opinions that don’t provide substantial learning lessons.

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Elaborate on your music careers, albums, songs, tours, recognition or awards you might have obtained. 

I recently released a full-length album called “Home Again” and have a previous released called “Something You’ve Left Behind”.

I am a Texas-based Singer/Songwriter. My style of life performance fuses the art of contemporary folk singer-songwriters with modern pop, focusing on right-handed percussive techniques, open-tunings, and original stories.

In March of 2010, my song “Independence Day” was awarded Song of the Month at Songwriter Universe, produced by YouTube sensation Tyler Ward. In May of the same year, the album won the Expose Yourself Song Contest at ReviewPosse.com. Between 2010 and 2012, I collaborated with celebrity photographer and cinematographer Sean Hagwell from Denver to produce several top-notch music videos. Most recently, in 2015, Sean and I worked together to produce “The Day I Said Goodbye” (Acoustic) music video.

In March of 2015, my song “That Look In Your Eyes” was selected as one of the best songs of the month by Songwriter Universe.  In May of that same year, I released an EP of songs called “A Brilliant Defeat”. Chris Johnson (The Fray, Rachel James) lead its engineering and production and has worked with me in the past on my previous full-length independent release “Something You’ve Left Behind”.

I’ve had the opportunity to perform at several prominent venues including the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles, The Fox Theater in Boulder, and Swallow Hill music and the Walnut Room in Denver.

In 2017, I released a full-length Americana album called “Home Again”.

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Tell us how you write your lyrics, compose, sing and record in the studio. 

Lyrics are often written in phrases, ideas, or chunks and precede music or melody. I find melody to be a very natural thing for me and, at times, I’ll hear the melody as I’m writing the lyrics.

The studio process is a collaborative effort and often done through remote connections via the internet. As someone who has had several years of formal vocal training, the studio is a fun place for me where I can focus on creating the best vocal tracks I can.

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Name five biggest artists that you like. 

I am a big fan of Matt Nathanson, Dave Barnes, David Mead, Ellis Paul, and David Gray.

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Name the artists you have collaborated with before in your songs or artists you are willing to collaborate with in the future if you have the chance to do so. 

I recently had the opportunity to mentor with Ellis Paul – a prominent Folk Singer-Songwriter. Along with attending and learning from other songwriters like Dan Bern, Abbie Gardner (Red Molly), and others, Ellis has worked with me on song editing and improving the quality of my lyrics.

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State the links to your social networks and stores for the purchase of your music. 

https://facebook.com/jamesleebaker

https://youtube.com/jamesleebaker

https://soundcloud.com/jamesleebaker

https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/james-lee-baker/451640527

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5VqQmX20FuAKfX1wsAiFMs

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Tell us about your happiest day and saddest day. 

My happiest day so far has been performing at Swallow Hill in Denver, Colorado. Not only did I get to open up for one of my long-time favorite songwriters, it was a great night and a solid performance with a receptive audience.

My saddest day was getting laid off from a job I had as an Operations Engineer for a data center. I didn’t see it coming and struggled for months to get back on my feet.

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Tell us how you will spend a million dollars.

​I would invest half of it into long-term value investment strategies and build a self-sustaining home in the mountains of Colorado with the other half. ​

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