Hit songwriter gives his own voice an opportunity to shine

Posted at 12:35 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 23:06:54-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While he's a two-time Medical School dropout and a failed Country music artist, Brett James is a Nashville success story.

He's scored 25 number one hits as a songwriter and had more than 450 of his songs cut, and now, he's giving being a solo artist one more try by releasing a new album full of fresh songs sang by him, and performing with a band for the first time in 20 years.

James has written songs such as "Jesus Take the Wheel” and “Love Wins” for Carrie Underwood, “When the Sun Goes Down” and “Out Last Night” for Kenny Chesney, and songs for Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, and even Bon Jovi and the Backstreet Boys.

While those cuts would be a dream for most any songwriter in Nashville, it all started with failure.

James dropped out of medical school and moved to Nashville in 1992 with dreams of being an artist. He was signed to a label, but after 7 years of trying to make it as a Country artist, he gave up, moved back home, and decided to go back to medical school.

"I literally started medical school on September 1st, and in the next 9 months, 33 of my songs got recorded by Faith Hill and Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney and some of the biggest artists that we have, and I had 5 top-10 singles that year," James said, adding, that due to the success, he quit medical school again.

"I'm a two-time dropout, that's what it comes down to,” James joked. "Apparently, God knew I was going to be the worst doctor ever, I think that's what it is."

While his 20-year songwriting career has won him a Grammy Award and numerous songwriter of the year honors, he still had the itch to perform his own music, and not just in writers rounds.

"Every show I do, somebody comes up and says, ‘Why don't you do it? Why aren't you singing those songs?’" James said, adding that it has now led to him writing and producing an album for himself.

"It's called 'True Believer' and I think it's kind of the fact that you kind of have to believe in yourself and you have to believe in love in life,” James explained of the album.

James plans to perform the music to audiences, all in the hope that they feel a connection to what he's written, starting with a show at City Winery Nashville on Thursday night.

"It's kind of like, you get to be a certain age, and you're like, love is all that really matters. And so, kind of all these songs are about love in one way or the other, and I'm proud of it."

Brett James will be playing songs from his new album at City Winery, with the proceeds going to MusiCares, and limited tickets are still available.

His new album is expected to be released later this year, and in the meantime, he plans to continue to write songs, which he said he absolutely loves doing.