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  • Writer's pictureBehind the Song

James Kennedy

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

James Kennedy began working as a professional musician in 1970 doing concerts and recordings. He released an LP “Just Being Natural” in 1972 and has been active as a recording session musician ever since. Throughout the years, James has performed as a solo artist and with a variety groups. For fans who have never heard your music, can you pick three words to describe it?! If three words just aren't enough then tell us more!!

Original, Contemporary, Innovative, all in an impressionistic style.

What is your favorite part about being an artist? Is it songwriting, performing, recording, something else?) Tell us why.

My favorite part of being an artist is the process of songwriting, then recording and performing each piece of music. This is where the magic happens! The songs get developed in many different ways and come alive in the final version. It's when I become involved in the creative process of doing a project. It's an incredible high.

Okay, this a fun question. When you are not doing music, what else do you enjoy doing?

Taking long walks, watching old movies, spending time with my Old English Sheepdog, collecting and restoring vintage guitars.

Who do you admire most in the music scene today and why? Al DiMeola because of his flawless technique and versatility in all styles of fusion, jazz, Latin, and world music.

Can you tell us what song you've written that is

the most emotional and describe the meaning behind it?

This is tough to do since I've done 29 CD releases, ie, a whole lot of pieces – "Back To Center" is recent, on "JK's Blue Thang" It's about how we get strung out on all kinds of stuff and one needs to stay centered and in balance.

Are you working on any new material right now or what's in the works for the upcoming year?

I'm working on a number of new pieces, both electric and acoustic guitar

oriented with plans for a new release late 2021 or early 2022.

Tell us where fans can access your music. For more information, please visit my Website Stream on Spotify Connect on Facebook


About James Kennedy Throughout the years, James has performed as a solo artist and with a variety groups. In 1980, he formed “The Heartland Consort” for performance and recording. From 1981-1993, he was an Artist In Residence at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, IA; this residency included performances with Stephane Grapelli, Bill Evans, Woody Shaw, Phil Woods, Gary Burton, and many more. In 1984 the German record label, Enja Records, released his self-titled LP of the group’s music. In 1986, he formed the indie record label Heart Consort Music which currently has 29 CD releases with worldwide distribution. In 1990, James formed James Kennedy & Friends group for performances and recordings - the group is still active in both performance and recording with 3 out of 4 of it’s original members. James is an active voting member of the Recording Academy since 2000. Has submitted new music to the Grammy Awards process for 19 consecutive years. He is also active in many online “collaborative” music communities, a current/active member of the American Federation of Musicians Local 137, and he remains active in composing and submitting music for film, TV, commercials, and other projects through Broadjam, Film Music Jobwire, Music Gateway, and various other entities. Mount Vernon, Iowa Community Development Group, produced 3 promotional videos for international distribution featuring 3 of James’ pieces. His music was selected for independent film “Pirate Island” which is currently in production (paused due to Covid-19), and his music was selected for Independent “short film” “East of Middlewest” which is currently in production.

While Covid-19 has forced the cancellation of “in-person” performances, James and his group have been doing “virtual” concerts when possible. James has also capitalized on this time to work on new music using a custom built Brazilian 10-string “viola caipira” guitar and hopes to release the new material by the end of 2020. James has received numerous independent music awards throughout my career.

Most recently:

Indie Music Channel Radio Awards 2019

Nominated for Best Male Jazz Artist for song “Sneak It Out”

2020 Indie Channel Music Awards

Nominated for “Best Jazz Instrumentalist”

“Uptown Theatre Honors” ceremony

James has been recognizing decades of musical achievements and his lifelong work of nurturing “rising” musicians.


#JamesKennedy #MusicInterviews

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