Written by | Ray Cornelius
He’s toured the world with Beyoncé. He’s been nominated for a Grammy award. Now he’s about to star in his first feature film with Jennifer Hudson, Nas and Mary J. Blige—all this before even releasing his first full album. I am talking about no one other than New Orleans bred singer-songwriter, Luke James.
For many of us, our first introduction to James was his appearance in Beyoncé’s 2011 Run the World (Girls) music video even though he had written songs for Chris Brown, Britney Spears and Keri Hilson. We then got a glimpse of his vocal prowess during last year’s Black Girls Rock male tribute segment along side veterans Anthony Hamilton and Eric Benet. He resurfaced again for this year’s Trumpet Awards, where James and Fantasia performed the hell out of some of Motown’s biggest hits.
In between that time, James has dropped a few singles here and there—“I Want You,” “Make Love to Me,” and “I.O.U,” “Oh God” ft. Hit-Boy—leaving fans wondering if and when he is going to release the full album, Made to Love.
I recently had a chance to briefly chat with James when he stopped through Atlanta. We talked about his musical inspirations, what it was really like opening for the Mrs. Carter World Tour and his thoughts on Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake being called the new faces of R&B.
RC: What is your most memorable moment of being on the road with Beyoncé during her Mrs. Carter’s World Tour?
LJ: You know what? Just being up there on stage is amazing. Wait! The moment before going up on stage and hearing the crowd coming in and chanting “Beyoncé!” To know that I get to go out there and warm them up—thrilling. It’s an adrenaline rush. And to know that Beyoncé believes in me that much…to put me out there, means the world to me.
RC: I’ve seen you perform live a few times and noticed that you incorporate the music of Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye in your set. How important are they to your sound and who you are as an artist?
LJ: They’re basically the blueprint, so I definitely have to pay homage to our earlier fathers.
RC: How would you describe your creative music process?
LJ: For me, it’s about a vibe. I have to surround myself with things. Like, if it’s me trying to be sexy or what not then I like to see sexy things. (LOL) I’m a Gemini! So it’s all about how the wind blows when it comes to creating.
RC: Tell us a little bit about your upcoming role in the “Black Nativity” featuring Jennifer Hudson…
LJ: I play a homeless kid named Jo Jo who has a girlfriend and we are both homeless. She is with child and her name is Maria. So, it’s kind of like Jo Jo is Joseph and that is where the nativity story comes into play. I am sort of like baby Jesus’ stepfather. (LOL)
RC: How do you feel about singers Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake being called the new face of R&B?
LJ: I believe it’s everyone’s opinion and those guys are doing their expression of R&B music. But I think there is room for everyone, honestly. I don’t feel bad about it because R&B has no face. R&B is a feeling. If anyone, Chinese or Indian, has the vibe and they’re doing it well and people want to call them the face of R&B, then I can’t be mad at them. As long as they’re doing it, I’m ok. I believe there is enough room for everyone. But it’s only opinions.
Luke James’ Made to Love is expected to be released this fall. You can also see him in Black Nativity when it lands in theaters November 27.
Photo Credit: Megal Alodie for RayCornelius.com