Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, he took up the clarinet at the age of eight and switched to saxophone when he was ten. Raised in New Rochelle, New York, he was influenced by Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind & Fire and saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. When James was 14, his family moved to Los Angeles. He received a degree in History from UCLA and began playing music full-time after graduation. After 7 years of touring as a sideman with such artists as Morris Day, The Isley Brothers, Randy Crawford and Bobby Caldwell, he released his debut record as a leader, 1992's "Trust". Boney resides in Los Angeles with his wife, award winning actress-filmmaker Lily Mariye (best known as Nurse Lily Jarvik on ER for 15 seasons).
Three-time GRAMMY nominee Boney James has returned with a dynamic, genre-busting album "The Beat". One of the most successful instrumental artists of our time with sales totaling over 3 million records, James' new project fuses his R&B/Jazz roots with Latin rhythm and percussion.
"This record was born of my love for both Latin and R&B music and became a mash-up of the two genres. The initial inspiration for the record was Sergio Mendes' "Batucada (The Beat)," which I re-imagined as a funk tune." "Batucada (The Beat)" reunites Boney with trumpet great Rick Braun. "Rick and I have a wonderful history. There is a certain edge and energy that comes out when we play together that creates a really cool vibe."
Other special guests on the project include eclectic R&B soul singer Raheem DeVaughn and spoken word phenom The Floacist. The first Urban AC single, going for adds in mid-February, is "Maker of Love," a sexy, soulful song featuring DeVaughn. "Raheem is an artist I've wanted to work with for a long time and we actually met by following each other on Twitter! I sent him the track and he came back with an incredible lyric and finished vocal," says James.
UK poet and musician The Floacist (former partner of Marsha Ambrosius) brings a seductive flow to "The Midas (This is Why)" which adds to the World Music flavor of the album. James says, "This track is a real serious mash-up with the R&B groove, the shekere and conga percussion, coupled with the `Euro' vibe from The Floacist!"
Other treasures on the album include James' fresh take on Stevie Wonder's R&B/Latin classic "Don't You Worry `Bout a Thing," along with originals by James that run the gamut from subtle and sophisticated with tracks like "Acalento (Lullaby)" and "Mari's Song," to high energy with "Sunset Boulevard," and "Powerhouse."
In addition to his GRAMMY nominations, James is a Soul Train Award winner (Best Jazz Album) and has been honored with an NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Jazz Album. He has accumulated four RIAA Certified Gold Records. To date, nine of James' albums have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart and two have reached the top 10 on the R&B Albums Chart, a rare feat for an instrumental artist.
Boney is also renowned for his compelling live performances. According to The Boston Globe: "Let's make something perfectly clear: James is not a smooth jazz player. Yeah, he is often grouped with people like Kenny G and Najee, but his music is muscular and gritty....James swaggers across the stage like a blacktop hero draining trays on an overmatched opponent. He even weaves his way through the crowd, all but daring them not to have a good time."
Saturday Beatles Brunch