“I wrote this song … as an anthem for those who truly need inspiration through extremely difficult times.”

Ian James is a Christian Pop artist from Charleston, South Carolina, who has been featured in CCM Mag and New Release Today — the two biggest Christian music publications. In his music and heart for others, James hopes to bring light to those struggling and in need of kindness and true compassion. His writing is inspired by raw, deeply personal experiences that have fully shaped who he is, and his songs undeniably reflect this message.

Born and raised in Rochester, New York. Playing drums and guitar at the age of 8. Based in Charleston. “2020 took my music plans and completely rocked them. It’s been over a year since I released a song, and honestly, I almost thought I was done. But this year something sparked in me, and the passion came back tenfold.” What was the turning point, the ‘spark,’ that reignited your passion for music?

I had moved back home to Rochester in April 2020 because I felt like I was supposed to take a step back and reset. While home, I just started to gain a completely new perspective on my music pursuits: who I am, the purpose behind it, and my own abilities. Something stirred inside me to really work on my singing and my musical understanding, and then I started to feel a clear sense of direction to pursue it again with full effort and confidence. It wasn’t one single moment; it was a process over months where I gained a wholly new perspective and understanding. Songs started coming to me again, and I’m so re-energized to release what I’ve been working on going forward. Not to be dramatic, but it’s like my “re-introduction” onto the music scene.

From going solo two years ago to realizing your desire to outreach through the sharing of faith through your own personal stories.

Debut single, “I Look Up,” was followed by “Will for Me,” in which you declare your desire to follow God’s lead for your life, no matter where it takes you. Can you share how you’ve used music to inspire the youth at conferences like the one in Montreat, North Carolina?

I’ve played on worship teams at various churches throughout my life and have been blessed with some unique opportunities to help lead worship at youth retreats, college ministry conferences, and even the Super Bowl in 2019. What’s awesome about my experiences as a youth leader and musician is that I get to combine the two and really invest in the lives of the youth. One of the coolest things I got to do in Montreat, specifically, was play drums with two different high-school small groups I helped lead in the camp-wide variety show. Just seeing them have a blast performing was awesome to be part of and to share in those moments is really something I cherish.

“So, my whole goal with my songs is to be that bridge between people, and I hope my lyrics speak and relate to people in all walks of life.” The hope to bring light to those struggling and in the need of kindness and true compassion. Any suggestions for how we can best help those in need?

My entire purpose in this life is to show true intentionality and love towards others. Whether that’s through music, outreach, or just everyday life, that’s really all I care about. I truly believe we’re all created to be relational beings and that we’re all connected. So, I aim every day to really invest in others’ lives and get to know them and listen to them. I don’t care what you believe in, or what you may have done before, there’s always a way to build that relationship with someone. Through my music, I talk about my faith, but I want to relate to people regardless of beliefs or backgrounds. And I believe I have songs I’m currently working on that really will reach people from all walks of life. Real, intentional relationships with people is the foundation of service to others; everything starts with that.

“What began as a simple idea in my head turned into an absolute masterpiece, thanks to the unrivaled vision of Matthew Crum Productions and unmatched artistry of Jordan Benton who I’m beyond blessed to have worked with. Every single scene was executed to perfection. Shout out to my good friend Chad Dyar for being part of this. And when we had to make a last-second change, a huge shout out goes to @verena_lg for literally stepping in off the street with zero notice and crushing it.”

“‘By My Side’ … was born out of a very difficult season in life when I had just lost a job and was searching for direction. I reminisced on the serious trials I had faced in life: my birth deformity, my mother’s cancer diagnosis one week before I left for college, and my own spiral into an unhealthy party-focused lifestyle. Through all of this, I had felt a ‘presence’ that encouraged me and stayed by my side and kept me going. Whether one attributes this to God or just a ‘presence,’ it was clear I was helped through these times by something greater than myself. So, I wrote this song as a declaration to this realization, and as an anthem for those who truly need inspiration through extremely difficult times.” What songs have helped you through difficult times?

Honestly, I’ve been helped through difficult times by a very wide range of songs. When my mom was diagnosed, I genuinely would listen to any song that matched my emotion that day. Sometimes that was “Happiness” by The Fray, other times it was a Kelly Clarkson ballad.

I’m a huge NEEDTOBREATHE fan, so lots of their music has helped me. What’s funny is if you ask people who know me, they’d tell you I’m not that into church worship music; but I will say that the new stuff from Maverick City Music and Elevation Worship is super powerful and I’m into it. Sometimes the words of a song speak to me, but I honestly am usually more moved just by the music itself, how it feels and the emotion behind it.