As is often said, the drummer in a band has the ability to make everyone else in the group sound their best. And, this is definitely true of James Williams’ musicianship. His unique sound and feel proves that his approach to drumming is both inventive and fresh. He always holds the group together solidly.
James Williams began his music career at the very young age of 6 years. It was in a local church in south Georgia, where his father was head pastor, that Williams would later develop his abilities while serving on the music ministry. Having participated in music programs offered during his public school education, James tested other instruments but settled on drums as his main interest. Later - when his family moved to Monterey, California - Williams joined the jazz band at Monterey High School. With the support of the Monterey Jazz Festival, he would receive his first international touring experiences and be set firmly on the path toward continued musical development. He began his collegiate studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts and would later go on to complete his studies and receive his Bachelor and Master degrees from the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp in Belgium.
Williams has toured North America, Europe and Asia regularly over the years performing at blockbuster festivals such as Bonnaroo, Fuji Rock Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Field Trip, PukkelPop, Umbria Jazz Festival, Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival, and the Tokyo Jazz Festival amongst many others. He’s made a career performing a wide variety of music with artists from across the globe spanning several genres. James has backed many artists including GRAMMY award winners and nominees Gary Burton, Burt Bacharach, George Duke, Patrice Rushen, Wynton Marsalis, Emily King, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Jewel, Talib Kweli and others both onstage and in the recording studio. Williams has also broadened his performance scope to include theater, having been an original cast member in the Off-Broadway, Off West End, and West End productions of "Bacharach Reimagined" in New York City and London afterward a collaborator with Antwerp's Theater De Spiegel in Belgium.
In 2021, Williams helped to launch Inspired By Berklee, a global collaborative project between Berklee College of Music and Inspired Education, a group of 64+ K-12 schools around the world. The main component of this partnership is to send Berklee artists to Inspired Education schools to enhance their current performing arts programs and ignite creativity in their students. Williams also guests occasionally as drum instructor in the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp's Jazz department.
James has recently toured with Europe’s TheColorGrey , Robin McKelle, Portland; North America’s Amos Lee, Emily King, Joey Dosik, and South Africa’s Tutu Poane. His playing can be heard on recent and upcoming releases from recording artists Cory Henry, Milo Meskens, TheColorGrey, Mooneye, Mizuho, and Emily King to name but a few.
James Williams endorses Zildjian Cymbals and Vic Firth Drumsticks.