*These days, smooth jazz saxophonist, flutist, singer, composer, arranger, and recording artist Johnny “Dr. J” James has an extra pep in his step and glide to his stride. After all, he’s celebrating the high positioning of his latest single, Slippin’ (Nigel Lowis Stepper’s Mix).
James’ hit is currently a top-twelve record in the United Kingdom, peaking at No. 1 on the U.K.’s Jazz Juice Radio the last week of November into the first week of December 2021. The single also peaked at No. 15 on the U.K.’s R&B Starpoint Radio. Besides the United Kingdom, Slippin’ (Nigel Lowis Stepper’s Mix) is climbing smooth jazz and R&B charts in Canada and now, the United States – step by step! The electrifying song is rooted in the dance “steppin’,” the cool, smooth style of dancing started in Chicago before being loved throughout the world, especially in the United Kingdom.
“It’s incredible. I’m overjoyed with the success of Slippin’ (Nigel Lowis Stepper’s Mix),” said James from his home in Florida. “I wasn’t expecting for this to happen. I just put the record out, and people started playing it and loving it. I’m really appreciative to the people in the U.K. and Canada who have made the single so popular. Now it’s “steppin’ time” for the song in America!”
James gives props to Nigel Lowis for his magical mix that is helping propel Slippin’ to great heights on international charts. Lowis has worked with such American artists as Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Lemar, and BeBe Winans,
“Nigel Lowis is a legendary producer, arranger, instrumentalist, and remixer in the United Kingdom,” James said. “Working with him was an absolute honor. With the dance called steppin’ being so huge in the United Kingdom and other countries, my song and music with Nigel’s special mix are like we’ve issued a musical passport to the steppers of the world.”
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James has long had an affinity for composing, recording, and performing music that touches the souls of people and cultures of the world. Beyond the United Kingdom and the United States, James has performed his brand of jazz-R&B-soul music in the Caribbean, Mexico, Asia, and Canada. He lived and performed in Singapore for five years, playing at some of the Asian city’s most prestigious events and venues.
For James, music has always been an intricate part of his life. Born and raised in Tallahassee, Florida, young James was influenced by the powerful gospel music emanating from the Pentecostal church that he attended with his grandmother. He also heard and saw the world-famous Marching 100 Band of Florida A&M University (FAMU) practicing or performing not far from his house. James dreamed he’d one day play saxophone in the iconic marching machine. In elementary school, the youngster learned to play the saxophone and continued sharpening his musical skills on the instrument through 12th grade.
After high school, James’ dreams came true when he auditioned and was chosen to perform in FAMU’s Marching 100. James also played sax in the school’s concert, symphonic, and jazz bands. James’ playing style is heavily influenced by the late, great Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, the alto saxophonist and FAMU alum who ultimately became a jazz icon, fronting his own jazz groups that featured his brother Nat Adderley on trumpet.
“Cannonball used to talk with me a lot about music and attending FAMU when I was still in high school,” said James. “There’s no doubt that he was my mentor and biggest influence on my technique of playing jazz.”
James also calls saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. – The Godfather of Smooth Jazz – a huge influence. In addition, James points to sax man Maceo Parker of James Brown’s band fame as a key model for playing funky and soulfully.
Upon graduating from FAMU with a bachelor’s degree in music, James joined Will To Power, a Miami-based pop-dance band signed to Epic Records. The international smash Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley was among the songs the group recorded, and it soared to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. After leaving the group, James fronted his own bands and released several smooth jazz, R&B-flavored albums, including The Remedy, followed by The Cure.
For James, the beat goes on! In the first quarter of 2022, the saxophonist, vocalist, and recording artist will drop his new album, titled Breathing. However, he will initially release the album’s first single, Foolish Heart. James hopes that his music will continue to bring happiness and unity to a world that is desperately in need of both.
“I believe music is the common denominator to bring the world together,” James said. “I’ve come to realize that despite the many cultures around the world, we are all more alike than we think. I want to do my part to unite people in the name of music.”
For more information about Johnny “Dr. J” James or getting Slippin’ (Stepper’s Mix), log on to www.johnnyjamesinc.com or follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/johnnyjamesakadrj and Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johnnyjamesinc/.