James ~ Harmony Vocals ~ Guitars
I was just seven years old when I picked up my first guitar. While riding in the back seat of the car one day on the way to town, my mother asked me and my twin brother, Jon, “How would you boys like to learn how to play music?” I yelled out “Guitar” while Jon screamed “Drums!” From there, it was off to the races, thinking that it was gonna be easy. I learned to play on a Craft Master electric that my Mom and Dad gave me. Like most young boys, I wanted to go outside and play but my mom always encouraged me to practice. I thought that thirty minutes every day was an eternity! I practiced until my fingers hurt and then some. I was your typical teenager, listening to rock groups that drove my parents crazy. I guess we all go through the stage of trying to find the music we love. I learned over time to love all types of music such as Bluegrass, Country, Rock and Gospel. I can’t pinpoint exactly which influenced me the most – I play with a little bit of everything. I tried hard never to copy anyone. Although, I still enjoy borrowing or stealing some licks now and then from my guitar heroes, Chet, Eddie, and SRV, to name a few. I had a couple of real good teachers growing up too. Barney Lucas, a local musician in my home town of Junction City, Kentucky, was the first one to teach me how to play chords and play by ear. This tool helped me not to rely on sheet music alone. After a while, my Mom was relentless in convincing the best guitar picker in town, Steve Smothers, to take me under his wing and introduce me to Lead Guitar. I’m forever grateful to Steve for giving me a chance to learn real guitar playing from the soul. Later on, I was introduced to Classical guitar for a short time thanks to Danny Darst. Although it’s a different kind of animal, it required discipline and deserved respect. Classical playing managed to integrate itself into my electric guitar style. I still have other musical icons I try to measure up to, but my biggest and most positive influences were my parents. They supported me unconditionally, even early on when I considered laying it down and never picking it up again.
When I entered High School, I was introduced to Jack Vaught, a local choir teacher at Boyle County High School. He taught the three of us the art of singing three part harmony; he is an exceptionally talented vocal coach. He listened to us and determined that Jon would sing low Baritone harmony, Mitch would sing the lead, and I would sing high Tenor harmony. Our biggest harmony influences by far were The Gatlin Brothers. They are the best of the best! While I love playing the guitar, I know that the instrument can never compete with God’s instrument, the voice. I thank Him for giving me a singing voice to harmonize with my brothers in addition to the ability to play a musical instrument. I have to admit another vocal influence beyond harmony has always been my brother Mitch. He has an astonishing original Lead Vocal that’s a force to be reckoned with.
My brothers and I are constantly joking around with one another and find humor in almost everything we do together. We are close beyond measure and I think it is because of the music that this rare bond has kept us together as family and friends.
I like to get a little exercise whenever I can. I’ve always enjoyed doing a little running and lifting in the gym to keep fit; gotta work off that cheesecake (my weakness)! Another weakness of mine is a good cup of black coffee in the morning and an occasional cold one with friends. Exercise is a requirement around the Fletcher women and their southern cooking! Grandma Fletcher made THE BEST peanut butter brownies! So good that they would make your tongue beat your brains out!! She and my Grandpa had a love for each other for 70 years that was beyond measure. I will always remember his gift for story telling and his genuine laughter. My grandpa Watson was one of my best friends and ”one of the guys” because of his unwillingness to grow old! Ha Ha!! I could talk to him about anything cause that’s what guys do. I sure miss him. Grandma Watson lost her battle with cancer when I was very young. I can still hear her request to play her favorite song, “Kiss An Angel Good Mornin’, Jimmy.” When I’m not rehearsing, writing, or performing, you can find me spending time with my family. Watching movies together is something I really enjoy. I have a wonderful wife that supports me with love and honesty…and she can cook too, but not as good as my Grandma Fletcher - shhh! She has also given me a handsome son and a beautiful daughter. I am equally extremely proud of both my children. It is the love and support of my family that makes it possible for me to pursue my music career. My success, no matter how big or small, is their success – I feel fortunate to have them in my life.
“Nothing ever comes easy... If it was easy, anybody could do it!” is what my dad always says. Mom and Dad groomed us from the very beginning to tough things out and NEVER give up. They instilled core values and taught us to appreciate the gifts we are given in life. I have never shied away from tough work. I’ve done my share of work with my bare hands from bailing hay, hanging tobacco, working construction sites, stringing cable on a linemen crew, to owning my own electrical business with my twin brother, Jon. Some things can’t be taught; they have to be lived out day to day. Making a living in the ditches, crawling under houses and through itchy insulated attics, builds character. I admire and sincerely appreciate anyone who works hard to provide for their family, just as my father did for our family. I truly believe that the hands on labor have been an asset to my performance on stage. The lessons learned have manifested into the core of my music and help shape me as a man and an artist.
I’ve played my share of festivals, honky tonks & pool halls as well as singing at our local church as long as I can remember. I strive to keep the music real. I don’t overuse a lot of fancy technology and effects to produce something just because I can. I would like to thank my friend, Blue Miller (Gibson/Miller Band) for his talents in producing, recording, and keepin’ it real, hangin’ out on stage (and off) with me over the years. I doubt I could find a better, more talented, honest, person in the music biz.
Personally, country music fans are what make it all worth while for me! They are loyal and honest about what they want – they know good music when they hear it. I’m looking forward to things to come, meeting present and future fans along the way. I am thankful for their support.
Saving the best for last, but not last in the least…I want to give thanks to my Lord, Jesus Christ. Nothing is possible without Him. I was raised a Christian which has instilled in me the greatest gift I can ever receive – His Grace.
Keep it real, James