Growing up in the infamous projects known as ‘The Jungle’ in New Haven, CT, Manny James and his soulful sound epitomize the meaning of a rose growing through concrete.
I first had the pleasure of collaborating with James in 2013, co-creating a song called So Incredible which became a national commercial ad campaign for the NFL and Visa. I remember thinking that his tone was reminiscent of the great Curtis Mayfield, which in this trending time of autotune was quite refreshing. J.B and I caught up with James at the studio.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your new single ‘Joy Song’.
I wrote Joy Song as a tribute to the people who inspire me the most. My children. The first verse is about my daughter and the second is about my son. The amount of happiness and satisfaction I get from watching them grow is immeasurable. The energy I get from them motivates me to be a better artist, a better father, and overall just a better person. Joy Song is written, arranged, and produced by Peter Greco and myself, and is my 3rd single released by my imprint Church Street South Entertainment, which pays homage to where I grew up.
How does it feel to write, produce and distribute on your own?
It’s a lot of work, but I’ve been blessed to work with people in the past that cared about my craft. I was able to learn a lot – the do’s and don’ts of this business can be tedious. I’m thankful that I’ve always had a good support system.
What do you enjoy about making music?
I love creating. It’s extremely gratifying to be able to take an idea from start to finish, then to the stage to share it with the world.
We’ve compared you to a new-age Curtis Mayfield. Which artist inspired you the most growing up?
I’ve had quite a few musical inspirations, so I’d have to say, Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, and of course Michael Jackson inspired me the most. It’s a dream of mine to collaborate with Stevie Wonder. He’s one of my biggest musical influences.
Nowadays, I turn the radio on or stream and everything sounds the same. Describe to me your genre. What should a listener expect from your music?
My genre is R&B/Soul, the true feel-good music. Everything I create has an energy that could only come from the soul.
Tell me your biggest accomplishment to date.
Being a father; it’s everything to me.
What’s your favorite song to cover and why?
My favorite song to cover is definitely Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke. It took years for me to feel like I was worthy enough to cover it because the message of the song is so powerful and still very relative today.
Do you have any projects on the way?
I’m currently working on my full-length project, as well as writing and producing for a few other artists. Where can the people hear you? Please follow and listen to me on Spotify, Amazon, and Apple Music.
– By Ace Geo and Joe Boyd