Howard Student Tries Tuning It Out: James Durrah

Rhythm and blues has transformed indefinitely. From 60s Motown legendsto a genre diluted by generic lyrics and drowned in one-hit wonders.

The medium-size town of Cartersville, Ga. is possibly one of thelast places one would expect to find a fresh and timeless artist, butin the southern rolling hills of Northern Georgia a star may have been born.

The spirit of singer, songwriter and producer James Durrah, 20, isreminiscent of an old soul. His style is quirky, but distinctive withpiercing brown eyes, long sideburns, a go-tee and a irresistiblymischievous smile.

Durrah’s raspy deep voice and eccentric musical style is addicting andhis a’cappella records showcase his classic vocal training.

At the ripe age of 16, Durrah used his Dell computer microphone anddownloaded software to record his first two mix tapes, “Revamped Heat:Volume One” and “Teary Blue Sunrise.”

The emerging artist hit the streets carrying around a Nike athleticbag full of his mix tapes selling them to friends at school, familyand members of his church

“That was my first time ever venturing out, writing music and arranging music,” Durrah said. “It was my start to becoming arecording artist.”

Durrah’s humble roots began when he just three-days-old after beingadopted by Terri A. Durrah, 35, who was a single foster parent. Growing up, Durrah lived with several foster kids who were shuffled inand out of his house by the state.

“It had a direct influence on my personality and the way that I think,” he said.

As a kid, Durrah sang along to his favorite Whitney Houston videos, admitting, “Iwas born in 88′, so I caught the tail end of the 80’s. I really lovedTLC, Vanilla Ice and SWV.”

Durrah is a junior at Howard University majoring in broadcastjournalism and minoring in vocal jazz.

“Knowing how the industryworks, I needed something to fall back on. My mom made me go tocollege,” Durrah said.

While living in the nation’s capital, Durrah opened for Intrinsiq,performed at local restuarant Bus Boys & Poets, and has participated in a variety oftalent showcases including the annual Jabberwock at Howard University. He is also the co-founder of “The Workshop,” a music production teamdedicated to producing quality music as well as promoting anddeveloping artists.

“The Workshop” is comprised of Durrah, brother-sister duo Joe and AngelaPorter and Reianna Essex-Simmons.

Angela and Durrah met three years ago and have been making music eversince.

“James has a unique vocal style that’s fresh.Yyou don’t hearthat now,” Porter said.

Porter and her brother are the executive producers of Durrah’s newalbum, “Journey to a Parallel Universe” which is set to be released inlate 2008 and will be available for purchase on iTunes.com.

“We’re currently in the phase of mixing,” she said. “James’s jazz voice coupled with mybrothers futuristic beats creates a whole new sound.”

“Introductory musicianship (The Mixtape)” is a prelude to Durrah’s upcoming album and is now available on www.MySpace.com/JCDURRAH.