Unknown singers and dancers are being found out by small-time and big-time companies. It’s sort of incredible to think that one day you could be singing in front of your Panasonic camera, making a home video, and then a month later you get a call from a large record company asking you to fly to the big city and sign a deal with them. It isn’t something that can happen to anyone, but it can happen if you’re a talented, English singer and guitarist. James Bay is a lucky guy that happened to be videotaped during a live show in a pub and he got a call to come to New York a few months later. He is very young, but for the amount of time that he has been on the scene, he has proven he has got what it takes to run with the best of them.
Bay became inspired by blues music after hearing Eric Clapton’s single, “Layla,” when he was only 11 years old. In an interview with Mark Savage, a journalist and blogger for BBC News, Bay was asked how he got started playing the guitar. “There was a guitar that my uncle owned and never learned to play. He sold it to my dad and when I heard Layla, that was the tune that really grabbed me. I said to my dad, ‘wait, there’s a guitar, right?’” Eric Clapton’s song definitely provided a lot of inspiration for Bay to go towards a career in music. However, growing up in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, a small English town, he did encounter plenty of music during the World Music Festival as a child. The World Music Festival is an extravagant event where Bay grew up listening to music from different corners of the world: from English heavy metal bands to African dance music. The World Music Festival showed him various music bands at a young age and gave him motivation. He listened and was encouraged by the music at the festival, but he learned about music through his own teachings. At first, it was books and people online. He would read hundreds of books about guitar playing and different types of rock and classical music. People he talked to online through chat rooms would give him helpful information, but he still didn’t receive everything that he could have. But then, along came a little application named YouTube. He was able to watch thousands of videos about guitars and music in one location by just hitting the play button. YouTube was a huge factor that Bay took advantage of at a young age, and by watching these videos, he learned about the music that he plays for us today.
Dark of the Morning, Bay’s first extended play, included five songs and was released in July of 2013. Of the five, I personally enjoyed his single, “Stealing Cars.” The song isn’t as popular as some of his others, like “Hold Back the River,” or “Let it Go,” but I liked this song better than the others because of his voice. His singing voice is very clear and very powerful in all of his songs, but in this one, his voice seemed to portray his feelings with an even stronger tone. One thing that fans of his will notice in his music video is the fact that he isn’t wearing a hat, something that never happens. It could be considered blasphemy for us to see Bay perform without wearing a hat, but the lyrics are so good that I think we can overlook that. Dark of the Morning is an EP that hasn’t made the top of the charts by any means, but contains five underrated and underappreciated songs that have powerful messages. On the other side of things, Let it Go, his second extended play, gained a lot of media attention in 2014, with the album getting a top 10 placement on the iTunes chart and his popular single, “Let it Go,” earning #10 on the music charts in the UK. “Let it Go,” was all the rage during the summer of 2014, giving us a song that female fans could listen to after an extremely, gut-wrenching break-up. The song that was endorsed by the famous singer and songwriter, Taylor Swift, and several others, earned him the Critics’ Choice award, an award in Britain given to artists who gain media attention through their music, earlier this year.
As a twenty-four year old young man who has been playing guitar and singing for about ten years, he has a remarkable voice and excellent skills on the guitar. He hasn’t received real fame until a few years ago, releasing his first songs through Republic Records, a huge record label in New York that first signed Bay on. Once he was signed to the record label and his songs began to flow through the media, Bay got his first taste of international stardom – such a young age, too. It’s only been a couple of years since his fan base grew to a sizeable amount, but in those few years he has made a name for himself with his extraordinary talent.