Spotlight on: James Kilbane – Serene and sincere with an unique singing voice
You’re a Star -The Irish version of the X Factor, has since it’s inception been a platform for artists of all genres. In 2004, James Kilbane from Achill, struck a chord with television audiences all over Ireland, not only for his exceptional talent as a singer but also for the aura of sincerity and serenity which surrounded him throughout the competition.
Although the winner of that year’s Show was Waterford native Chris Doran, James as runner up went on to become a multi platinum selling Christian, Country Gospel, and Irish artist who’s music is much sought after both nationally and internationally.
Prior to entering ‘You’re a Star’, James had been drawn to recording and performing Gospel Music which has been hugely successful and rewarding for him;
“It has been truly amazing”, James said, “I know that I am just the messenger, I am only human, however I know that so much of the music I have recorded has reached and helped many in prisons, suffering with health problems, addictions, family life issues, marriage problems, and other situations. I know because so many have told me and written to me and I believe I am being called to do this work for God”.
Although James was born in London, his parents Mary and Michael and his sister Catherine moved back to Achill in 1975. At the tender age of 19, he married Christina and they have two children Diana and Daniel.
James’ musical talent was easily recognised from a young age, and he credits his teachers for nurturing this gift and providing opportunities for him to develop his confidence and abilities further. His parents also played a vital role through bringing him to singing competitions where he enjoyed significant success.
As a teenager, he began singing in Folk and Country Bands to “make a few pounds pocket money”. Learning the Guitar enabled him to entertain audiences in Bars and Clubs, but simultaneously singing in church choirs and performing church music was very dear to his heart.
Meanwhile, James was adding another string to his bow by earning a National Certificate in Business Studies followed by a BA Honours Degree in Heritage and Cultural Studies.
Shortly after his series of striking performances on You’re a Star, James with a handful of other people set up Gold Eagle Music and released an Album ‘King of the Road’. “I believed that Country Music could be mixed more with Faith Music”, James remarked,” and I wanted to develop Christian music in Ireland other than being just Church based only. In 2005, I met a man called Steve Popovich of Cleveland International Records who became a great friend and mentor. He was a great personal help and support to me – he believed in me”.
In fact the list of artists Steve Popovich has worked with reads like a who’s who of some of the biggest stars in music such as Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, and Michael Jackson. To date, James has released nine Albums and is one of the biggest selling independent music brands in Ireland.
His collaboration with Veritas was another significant milestone on the journey for James. “About 15 months before You’re a Star, I had recorded my first Gospel Album and had done nothing about it, then many people began asking me did I sing any religious songs. On the ‘King of the Road’ album, I had included some faith based numbers but now people were asking for more of the same, so I took the earlier recording, touched it up, and released it early in 2005”.
James explained that he lost his management at the time because they were not keen on the religious path he was pursuing with his music; “I left them and went with my faith and what I really wanted to do”, he said. “As a Christian, I believe it is important to speak out against wrong doing”. As he believed firmly in his music, and was confident that he had a good product, James picked up the phone and began calling shops and various other outlets, and over the ensuing months built up great relationships with many of them. One of those contacts was Veritas and for the Year of Faith Veritas invited him to put a collection together for their own brand. The result – ‘Songs of Faith Collection’ a superb 20 track Album was exceptionally well received.
In 2012, James was named ‘Irish Gospel Singer of the Year’ for his music and work and in June of the same year, he performed at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in the RDS Arena in Dublin. He is also a regular performer at many other major religious events in Ireland.
James also performs his unique and beautiful brand of music in venues throughout Ireland, and is a regular performer in the USA. At the moment, there are no dates scheduled for the UK, but James can be contacted through Gold Eagle Music at 00353 98 45671 or at www.jameskilbane.net
“I very much want to bring my music to the land of my birth in Britain and would like to put some dates in for 2014, Churches, Halls, and Theatres are all possible venues, I go where there is a welcome”, he says.
James’ extensive catalogue of Christian, Country, and Irish Albums can be purchased in the UK in all the Pauline and St. Paul chain of bookshops across Britain, as well as directly from Amazon and iTunes.
And on a final note James says; “I am so grateful to all who have supported me and making the success I enjoy today possible”.