b. USA. Raised in the area around Washington, DC, James played guitar in rock bands, later encompassing traditional blues. An abiding interest in the music of Africa drew him to develop a style that artfully combines elements of blues with contemporary African music. From his California base, he has worked throughout the USA and since 1994 has made numerous visits to Africa, especially Mali, acting as performer and record producer. He works often with traditional Wassoulou and Sonrai musicians. Artists with whom he has worked in the USA and Africa include Solo Sidibe, Hamma Sankare, Hassi Sare, Massamba Diop and Wassonrai, a group featuring Mamadou Sidibe and Amadou Camara.
James and his musical companions play several traditional instruments, including kameme n’goni, a form of harp, njarka, which is violin-like, calabash and bolon, a stringed instrument with a bass-like resonance. Vocal lines are traced in English, Bambara and Sonrai.