James was born and raised in Peterborough. He was introduced to brass bands at a young age, attending the local Salvation Army with his mother. At the age of 8 he became a junior solider and joined the Young People’s Band. His first cornet tutor was his Uncle Rod, who recognised a natural talent at the outset. The Salvation Army has played a much valued part in James’ life, giving him a wealth of experience and performing opportunities playing in illustrious venues like the Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall, The Lighthouse in Poole, The Sage in Gateshead and even on tour to San francisco. James was invited to join a local competing brass band at the age of 12 and worked with several other local bands and orchestras in his teens, such as The City of Peterborough Symphony Orchestra, The City of Peterborough Concert Orchestra and Rutland Sinfonia. Having decided to make music his chosen career, James moved from the cornet to the trumpet six months before auditioning for music colleges, where he was successful in gaining a scholarship to Birmingham Conservatoire. He has played in the major Conservatoire ensembles including Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia, Pops, and Thallein.