JAMES BLUNDELL – biog 2016
In late March 2012 James Blundell was announced as the inaugural inductee into the Country Music Channel (CMC) Hall of Fame by long time friend, one time band member and 2008 Australian of The Year Lee Kernaghan. The induction also included tributes from country stars Catherine Britt and Travis Collins whose renditions of classic Blundell songs further reinforced his influence on a generation of Australian performers.
Acknowledged by many as the act single-handedly responsible for turning a younger demographic of Australians onto country music James combined the story-telling ethos of country icon Slim Dusty with a more rock orientated approach influenced by his love of acts such as John Mellencamp, The Band and The Angels. He was the first young Australian country artist to create an impact on the pop charts and for many years was the nation’s highest selling country artist. James was also the first Australian country act to sign a major label recording deal in Nashville paving the way for the likes of Keith Urban, Kasey Chambers and others. In addition to his own success he has penned hits for Lee Kernaghan, Slim Dusty and Jimmy Little. James has been the recipient of numerous CMAA Awards, double platinum, platinum and gold sales awards and is a 5-time ARIA (Australian Record Industry Association) Award nominee with one win to his name.
While in his native Australia James Blundell’s name is synonymous with the country genre a closer inspection reveals he has more in common with the likes of Steve Earle or Kris Kristofferson than any other Antipodean singer-songwriter. ‘Woolshed Creek’, his latest offering is proof that the somewhat controversial, 40-something, twice divorced, father of three has more in common with these type of country-outlaws than the Australian country artists that have followed in his footsteps. While his personal experiences have provided him with a direct link, it’s his lyrical insight, sharp wit and empathy for the average working man that highlights their influence on his work.
James’ early career was nothing short of phenomenal: a string of platinum albums and top 10 pop successes turned the former cattle hand into a household name. But like so many talented artists Blundell refused to be put in a box musically and after numerous heated meetings with then record label EMI he walked away from the music business, although his star turn in a high profile ad for QANTAS kept his face firmly in the public eye.
Since re-emerging from a self-imposed 6 year hiatus that saw him busking around Europe in a well-loved Kombi van James’ recent offerings have featured some of his finest musical moments. They may not have achieved the crossover success of their predecessors but these albums have been lauded by the critics with statements such as “If there’s a contemporary singer/songwriter in this country today writing about and commenting on the nature of being an Australian with a quiet honesty, real integrity – and a cheeky humour when things get a bit too serious – it’s James Blundell,” a regular occurrence.
His “comeback” single ‘Postcards From Saigon’, a song documenting the troubled life of a Vietnam Veteran, proved he still had plenty to offer (even the great Kris Kristofferson, a man who knows or thing or two about writing songs, gave it the thumbs up). James was recognised by the Australian Independent Country Music Awards winning the awards for Male Vocalist, Heritage Track and APRA/AMCOS Independent Country Music Single of the Year. James also received four nominations from the Country Music Association of Australia – APRA Song of The Year, Single of The Year, Male Vocalist of The Year and Video Clip Of The Year – for the 34th CMAA Country Music Awards of Australia.
Over the past few years albums such as ‘Deluge’, ‘Ring Around The Moon’, ‘Portrait of A Man’ and ‘Woolshed Creek’ have been recognised with a string of nominations at the CMAA Awards. Singles such as ‘Greylands’, ‘Higher Than Heaven’, ‘Ring Around The Moon’, ‘Four Feet Tall’, ‘Move Into The City’ and ‘Good Wood’ are all fine examples of why he is recognised as one of Australia’s finest singer-songwriters.
In October 2007 ‘Ring Around The Moon’ was a finalist in the country album category at the ARIA Awards. ‘Higher than Heaven’ was nominated in the Country Work of the Year category by the Australasian Performing Right Association for the 2008 APRA Music Awards, the annual celebration of Australian songwriters. James was inducted into the prestigious Galaxy of Stars by Tamworth Regional Council in January 2009.
A long time supporter of young talent James was approached by Mushroom Music to be involved with the talent search ‘Telstra Road To Discovery’ during 2009. His role as spokesman and mentor continues to this day.
Never one to rest on his laurels James was keen to try his hand at theatre and in August 2010 started work on a play titled ‘The Ultimate Rock N Roll Jam Session’ alongside rocker Dave Larkin (Dallas Crane), Melbourne indy fave Nick Barker & newcomer Ezra Lee. The show which tells the story of one electrifying day in 1956 when four of America’s top recording artists of the time – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins – met and forever changed the face of popular music was a resounding success, playing to packed houses nationally including a memorable 16 night stint at Sydney’s iconic Opera House.
In 2010-11 James was heard on Channel Ten as the narrator for the hit television show, ‘Keeping Up With The Joneses’, which follows the extraordinary life and times of the Jones family on Coolibah Station in the Northern Territory.
April 2012 saw James join the team of The Royal Sydney Easter Show as the host of the Commonwealth Bank Arena’s Showtime Spectacular. Whether it was introducing the Stockmen’s Ride, MCing the Royal Rodeo Series or performing one his many classics to the 1000s in attendance, his words and voice took the audience on a journey to a very different Australia.
2014 was viewed as a rebirth of sorts for James with the star focusing on writing new songs which he plans to release over the coming months. He’s also working with a new booking agent and record label for the next chapter of his career. His songs about Kimberley moons and the colours of the outback evoked powerful emotions for city audiences who may have not been privileged to experience the special world that he inhabits.
2015 saw James doing what he loves best – performing to his fans! In conjunction with the promotion of his new album ‘Come On In’ with hit single ‘Hills Of Brisbane’, James has tour dates in 2015 and 2016 which cover most of Australia. His shows are what legend is made of. A James Blundell live performance is an experience that encompasses audiences everywhere. A blend of great songs, music, vocals and a bit of cheek thrown in for good measure!
“Hills Of Brisbane”, James’ first release for some time has exceeded all expectations, charting highly in country music charts right across the country.
2016 is shaping up as James’ biggest year yet – it has only just begun!