Hit Songwriter Bios—Brett James

Brett James -- Grammy

From left, Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson are photographed with their award for best country song, "Jesus Take The Wheel," at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007, in Los Angeles.

Brett James appeared as a featured writer at the 2006 Durango Songwriters Expo in Park City, UT.

From William Morris Agency:

The second of three kids, Brett [James] grew up in a very musical family. "My dad's never done it for a living, but he's an amazing singer and my mom has a Master's degree in classical piano, so there was always a lot of music in our house," says Brett. "I learned to sing in church and started singing duets with my brother when I was about five, but where I'm from you don't ever really think about trying to make a career out of it. I mean it's not one of the options that they give you at the job fair in high school. I never really even thought seriously about it until I was already in medical school." Medical school? That's right, Brett was in his second year of medical school at the University of Oklahoma when he got his first break.

"Just for fun I had recorded a little five-song demo tape in Oklahoma City and sent it to a friend of mine who was in the music business. To make a long story short, I ended up meeting with Tim DuBois (then the president of Arista Records) on my spring break. I still remember him looking across the desk at me and saying I could make it happen if I would move to Nashville. Since making music sounded a lot more fun than studying medicine, I decided to finish out the school year and head to Nashville," said Brett. That was 1992.

"...When I first came to town, thanks to the clout of Tim DuBois, people treated me like I was the next Garth Brooks. Then there I was five years later without a record contract and I couldn't get people to return my calls..."

"By the spring of 1999, my wife Sandy and I had two little boys. I had signed a new publishing contract, but I was making a lot less money and up to that point I hadn't had much success writing songs for other artists. I started to really worry about supporting my family. Music is a tough business and I'd seen a lot of my dream dashed, so I decided that the best thing for all of us was for me to go back to Oklahoma and finish medical school. I knew that it would be a long road, but at least I would know that my kids would be fed and at that point that's all I really cared about," Brett said. So, in the fall of 1999, he re-entered the same medical school he walked out of seven years earlier. He would soon find out that fate had other plans.

"...That's sort of when it all went crazy. Faith Hill recorded one of my songs called "Love Is A Sweet Thing" for her Breathe album...and over the next seven months 28 of my songs were recorded by numerous other artists," Brett said. "I'd never heard of anyone having that many songs recorded in such a short period of time. I would write songs between classes, and two of my co-writers, Troy Verges and Holly Lamar, actually came out to Oklahoma to write with me. Troy and I wrote Jessica Andrew's #1 hit "Who I Am" and Tim McGraw's "Telluride" in the back office of my parents' house."

[Soon] producer Dan Huff (Faith Hill, Lonestar, Jewel) called wanting Brett to record his own album. "It was a dream to get that call, but it was kind of weird because I thought I had just made this big life-changing decision to leave the music business and here it all came kind of chasing me down, " he said. "I believe that God has a plan. Looking back I think He was just making the decision to come back to Nashville obvious enough that I wouldn't miss it."

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