Stanley James Over the highways and through the hood, singer/songwriter Stanley James has weathered the toughest of times in order to follow the musical path his heart has set. His passion flows like a raging river not only though all of the music he creates, but in the methodical marketing avenues he's come up with to get that music heard - be it to the public or power brokers in the music business. Stanley does whatever it takes to make his music heard. He's sewn up a seamless blend of old school and contemporary soul sensibilities, creating a sound that all R&B lovers will take to heart. "Being boxed in would be too limiting for me and totally unacceptable," he states. "I do neo soul, hip hop, rock, you name it. There's nothing new under the sun. It's about how you present and reinvent yourself, making the familiar fresh for a new generation." A prime example of that methodology can be heard in his sexy ballad 'Nobody but You,' which finds him pulling from the familiar yet very different sources of Prince, Bone Thugs-n-harmony and Usher to make the ultimate bedroom slow jam. "The first time I performed it," Stanley swears, "five guys jumped up and slow danced with their girls...and they'd never heard it before. I wrote that song when I was in a relationship. I wanted my lady to know I didn't want to be with anyone but her. In the song, I say, 'I'm turning in my players card / I don't want to share your body with no other man...' This is a man who knows not only what a woman needs to hear...but believe. Stanley's sensitivity extends beyond love relationships to touch on the love of another kind - the love he has for his mother. On "Thank God for My Momma," he reflects back to his boyhood days growing up with her n Chicago's Southside in the infamous Dearborn Homes. "Mom had me when she was 15 - a single mother raising five kids. I remember everything she went through - especially with men - when I was a kid. I didn't want to wait until she passed to do a song for her." Don't think the man can't rock a party now...because before he even started singing, he was a flashy street dancer. His strongest calling card is his spellbinding abilities as a stage performer. He knows what he's singing about on "Old School Party," a song he co-wrote with Motown veteran and Little Dizzy Records CEO Michael Sutton. Stanley James has been singing since 6th grade. He started in the Baptist church where his Grandmother Betty Williams was a soloist. "She loved Sam Cooke and Otis Redding," Stanley remembers, "and I always cried when she sang on Sunday... She's my greatest influence: musically and beyond." A byproduct of Chicago's Boys and Girls Clubs, Stanley came up walking the straight and narrow. While attending Whetstone High school in Columbus, Ohio, he did everything from talent shows and work with choir director Alvis Moore (a great motivator) to a production of "Raisin." But it was his performance of George Benson's "On Broadway" that got him the ovation that sealed his fate. Stanley returned to Chicago to attend Malcolm X College and Roosevelt University. Though he is primarily self-taught, he took a few lessons from renowned vocal coach, Lena McLin. After a few lessons she sent him on his way. "You are a star waiting to be discovered. Remember what I told you and you'll do fine." Citing his most influential singers as serious crossover soul crooners Jeffrey Osborne and Peabo Bryson, Stanley gravitated to the men who could entertain and move you with their vocal riffs. That approach came in handy once he joined the army and found himself stationed in Germany. Never able to stray far from music, he soon found himself in a male vocal quartet called At Ease modeled after groups like Jodeci and Silk. They won Germany's equivalent of the Apollo and were flown to New York to compete further. They couldn't even get out of the subway station good before the East Coast girls were fiendin'. Sadly, though the group came close to getting signed (they even sang backup for JOE briefly), internal issues forced them to disband. Stanley entered the toughest time of his life. "I was homeless for four years," he confesses, "but I was determined....shopping deals in the dead of winter when companies were winding down for holidays. I walked in the blizzard of 2004 to get to Casablanca, Atlantic, Geffen and J Records. I had some BIG doors shut in my face." Undeterred, he stayed on his grind hustling his music in a most creative manner. "I would set up shop in bus stations and airports," he shares, "and approach people politely and professionally. I had my music on a Walkman with headphones and a 5-item marketing plan questionnaire with my picture and Web address for people to fill out asking if they liked the music. A lot of people liked the music so much that they bought my CDs right there and I would autograph them." Later on the streets, he would set up a battery-powered PA system and rock it karaoke style with a tip bucket to get something to eat. Most poignant of Stanley's stories is the night he sang at The Sugar Bear in New York and wowed an audience that included Melba Moore, Stephanie Mills, El DeBarge and Freddie Jackson. "I sang Maxwell's 'Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)' - blazed it - and everybody loved it. Freddie said, 'Man, you can sing!! Come sit down.' He was real cool...telling me to stay focused. I broke it down and told him, 'Look, man, I don't know where I'm sleepin' tonight.' He reached in his pocket, gave me $100, gave me his number and said call if there was anything else he could do. I will never forget that." A few years later, Stanley returned to the Sugar Bar with a band and backup singers on a Wednesday night. He packed the place - an event captured on a live DVD available on his Website. For Stanley James, persistence has paid off. He landed opening spots for 702 and Montell Jordan. He has performed for the Honorable Bishop Desmond Tutu at the African Children's Fund annual banquet in Atlanta. He returned to Europe, developing a fervent female following. And through it all, he has independently released three albums: I'm Not the One (2002), Household Name (2004) and All of My Life (2005). Ask him the #1 thing he wants people to know about him, he'll reply, "I am not a studio singer. I take things to the next level!"
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