Luke James Boyd better known as Luke James, is a two-time Grammy-nominated American singer-songwriter. He began his musical career singing background for R&B artist Tyrese and later writing songs for musicians such as Chris Brown, Britney Spears, Keri Hilson, and Justin Bieber. Under the management of record producer Danja, James released his first mixtape, #Luke, in 2011. The mixtape's critically acclaimed single "I Want You" earned him a Best R&B Performance nomination at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. Like the first project, he released his second mixtape, Whispers in the Dark, as a free music download in 2012. His self-titled debut studio album was released on September 23, 2014.
Early life and career beginnings
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and raised by a single mother, James was influenced by an eclectic array of music, particularly jazz and R&B. James said his love for music started when he watched a contestant perform a cover version of "A Song for You" on Showtime at the Apollo. He said "I got chills. And I get that feeling all over again whenever I think about that performance. At the time, I'd never said I wanted to be a singer; I just knew I wanted to entertain. And I'd never heard of Donny. But when my mother found her copy of one of his records, I knew then that I wanted to reach people that way."
As a child, James was inspired by several recording artists and musicians such as Marvin Gaye, Willie Nelson, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Alabama, among others. He credits his mother for introducing him to all kinds of music. James attended St. Augustine High School with schoolmate, (and future OFWGKTA member) singer-songwriter Frank Ocean. While in high school, he joined a musical trio named Upskale with friends Quinten Spears (known as Q) and Tah for a brief period, which introduced him to his longtime manager, director, and choreographer Frank Gatson. After graduating high school, the trio split and James relocated to Los Angeles, California. Q and James later formed a duo called Luke & Q, where James performed under the name Luke The Singer. Shortly after forming the group, the duo was able to be the opening act for R&B artist and actor Tyrese Gibson during one of his concerts. However, after the failure to garner both James and Q much recognition, they decided to both part ways.
2007–present: songwriting and breakthrough
After disbanding, James honed his skills as a songwriter, quickly hooked up with producer Danja, and began to craft hits for those in the pop, R&B and soul genres. He also worked alongside Tank. He then began to co-write hits, such as Chris Brown's "Crawl" for his third album, Graffiti. In addition to writing for Brown, he also wrote (or co-wrote) hits for pop artists such as Justin Bieber ("That Should Be Me"), Britney Spears ("Kill the Lights") and Keri Hilson ("Do It").
In 2005, he appeared in Destiny's Child's Soldier video, with the members of the Upskale music trio. In 2011, he was personally selected by R&B singer Beyoncé to appear as a model/actor in her "Run the World (Girls)" music video. In December 2011, he released his debut extended play (EP) album #Luke as a free digital download. His first single, "I Want You", received universal acclaim from critics for its production and for James' vocal performance. The single later earned him a nomination for Best New Artist at the 2012 Soul Train Music Awards. Upon release of his second free digital mixtape, Whispers in the Dark, in December 2012, James began to garner buzz for his formal self-titled debut album, which is expected to be released from Def Jam in early 2014. On January 8, 2013, the album's first single, "Make Love to Me", was released to iTunes one month after the music video directed by his manager Frank Gatson. At the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, James was nominated for Best R&B Performance award for his 2012 single "I Want You" (but he lost to Usher's "Climax"). On February 7, 2013, the song "I.O.U." was released as the second single from his anticipated debut album. In 2013, he was personally chosen by Beyoncé to be an opening act for her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour. In August 2013 he released a video for "Oh God" featuring Hit-Boy; the music video was directed by Sarah McColgan. On December 4, 2013, he released another visual for "Strawberry Vapors", also directed by Sarah McColgan, the song was another release off the Whispers in the Dark album. On December 5, 2014, James received his second career Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Song for "Options (Wolfjames Version)". In November 2014 it was confirmed that Luke was dating English singer Jessie J.
- Studio albums
- Luke James (2014)
- #Luke (2011)
- Whispers in the Dark (2012)
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US||US R&B||US Adult R&B Airplay|
|"I Want You"||2012||—||97||40||Luke James / #Luke|
|"Make Love to Me"||—||—||—||—||Luke James|
|—||—||—||—||Whispers in the Dark|
(featuring Rick Ross)
- BET Music Matters Tour (with Estelle), (2012)
- The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour (opening act), (2013–14)
- Sweet Talker Tour (opening act for Jessie J), (2014–15)
Awards and nominations
|2013||2013 Soul Train Music Awards||Centric Award||n/a||Winner|
|2012||Soul Train Music Awards||Best New Artist||N/A||Nominated|
|2013||Grammy Awards||Best R&B Performance||"I Want You"||Nominated|
|2015||Grammy Awards||Best R&B Song||"Options"||Nominated|