Colin James has worn many hats during his long and storied career. When he first hit the scene twenty-five years ago, he became an instant rock guitar hero. Since then, this iconic Canadian has topped the charts as a pop vocalist, recorded an acclaimed blues album and led the swing revival with his Little Big Band, which he both fronted and produced. He has performed for the Queen, sold multi-platinum many times over and continues to sell out shows coast to coast. Along the way, he’s written memorable hit songs and given us distinctive covers of timeless classics, with his newest album Hearts On Fire teasing that the best is still yet to come.
Looking back over Colin’s career, it’s a timeline rich in highlights. His 1988 self-titled debut, featuring his two self-penned hits “Voodoo Thing” and “Five Long Years”, was the fastest-selling album in Canadian history. It won him his first Juno and an opening spot on tour with Keith Richards. His second album, Sudden Stop, featured his hit “Just Came Back,” which reached #3 on the U.S. radio charts and earned him the Juno Award for “Single of the Year.”
Although much of the attention he has received has been focused on his guitar prowess and song writing, these days, Colin’s focus is on other things. “Singing has kind of crept up on me,” he admits, “and it’s my favourite thing now.” This may sound surprising, coming from a guy who took home the Juno Award for Male Vocalist of the Year twice, but Colin says it’s all a process. “I’m still becoming a better singer,” he says, “I feel like I’m in the middle of the learning curve and I’m just starting to get it. I saw Solomon Burke in Norway before he died and I thought, ‘this man is a better singer now than he’s ever been.’ I’m inspired by that, by the idea that I could be lucky enough to do this forever and still be learning how to hit a song like I want to.”
Having traversed so many genres – from blues and rock to pop and swing and back again – he has sometimes puzzled onlookers with his eclecticism. Does his audience finally know what to expect from a Colin James album? “I think people who have followed me this far know what to expect,” he says. “I embrace all my different sides now. There are things on this album that you could find on one of my earliest sessions or on a Little Big Band record. I love being able to branch out and do different things—that’s what keeps it interesting.”
Colin James will get your pulse racing and set your heart ablaze on Friday, March 13 at The Centre – so grab your dancing shoes and be there or be square!