James developed a lifelong fascination with vocal music as a member of the Crafers Boys Choir. He gained early exposure to the stage as a member of the kinderchor in the Australian Opera’s production of Tosca in 1973. He has worked with State Opera South Australia from 1984.
Prior to moving to study at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, James had many other singing commitments in Adelaide, notably as a founding member of the Adelaide Chamber Singers. While in Brisbane he was a chorister with Lyric Opera of Queensland and worked with the Queensland Light Opera. James continued to sing when he moved to Melbourne, principally as a Lay Clerk at St Paul’s Cathedral.
James regularly sings at Pilgrim Uniting Church and the St Peter’s Consort. In addition to Opera chorus, he has understudied numerous baritone roles, including in Girl of the Golden West and Carmen. He performed the role of ‘Second White Sailor’ in Moby-Dick, and ‘Customs Officer’ for La Boheme. For the Adelaide Festival, James was a ‘Street Singer’ in Bernstein’s Mass and in the chorus for the 2018 production of Brett Dean’s Hamlet.