James Prosser Biography
"I made a commitment to myself to at least make an attempt at being discovered before I was 24," Prosser says. "So, a month before my twenty-fourth birthday, my fiancee Mindee helped me put a demo together and mailed it to Warner Bros."
That initial demo tape included two original compositions, and two covers--Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I could Cry" and Alan Jackson's "Dog River Blues"--but it was the voice that caught the label's attention. James already had the delivery of a seasoned singer, and a style that instantly set him apart from the thousands of other new artist packages they had received.
"A day or two after my birthday an A&R rep from the label called me. I was so shocked to get the call that I was a little suspicious of how real and serious it was at first," the humble singer explains. "But three days later he was at my house. It was just amazing. Mindee and I got married the same month, which, of course, added to all the excitement in our lives.
The seeds of that demo tape blossomed into James Prosser's stunning debut, Life Goes On. Produced by Mark Bright (BlackHawk) and Kyle Lehning (Randy Travis, George Jones), the album features ten engaging songs about love and loss by Nashville hitmakers Karen Staley, Bob DiPiero, Mark D. Sanders, Mark Chesnutt, Jerry Dale McFadden, Alex Harvey and others.
"I like to sing songs that are down-to-earth," Prosser says. "Country music has a backbone. It deals with real life. My main focus is to find songs everybody can relate to. That may sound simple, but I guess it's an extension of my small town values."
Such small town values come quite honestly to Prosser, who was raised in Mound Valley, Kansas, population 200. There he sang in his church and school choirs and excelled in football, wrestling and track.
The title track (and first single) from Life Goes On reflects life in a small farming community. It's and exquisite mid-tempo ballad that, like many of the songs on the album, is a candid look at life's experiences. " I lived a half-mile from a creek and as a kid I used to go down there and swing on the great big grape vines, just like the first verse of 'Life Goes On' describes, " he says. "Then the second verse describes a high school student breaking his hand in a football game. I actually did that my senior year! The song hit home for me because it seemed like the writer watched me as a kid and then wrote the song. It's probably my favorite cut on the record."
From the passionate look back of "Life Goes On," James launches full throttle into "The Girl Next Door." The feel-good lyrics reflect the singer's upbringing, while focusing attention on the endurance and speed that made Prosser a star athlete in high school. "Eight hundred acres, five fences and a creek couldn't keep that girl outta my reach," the song says. "You learn real fast what your legs are for when you live a country mile from the girl next door."
Once again noting the similarites between his own life and the songs on Life Goes On, James says, "I looked for songs that are true. People really go through those emotions. It's always good to know that somebody else has gone through the same thing, too."
James's ability to draw on those emotions landed him his first regular gig, singing nightly at the Pine Mountain Jamboree in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. It was in that charming tourist town, dubbed "Little Switzerland" because of its many hills and ledges, that he met his wife, Mindee, whose parents established the country variety show a quarter-century ago. The 1,000-seat theater that presents the jamboree sits in a Victorian-style village, surrounded by a dozen or so shops.
One of his favorite parts of the Pine Mountain Jamboree was the Marty Robbins medley he performed regularly. James names Robbins as one of his biggest musical heroes, along with Elvis Presley, Randy Travis, and George Jones.
Following in the footsteps of Jones, he tackled "Angels Don't Fly" on Life Goes On. One of the songwriters had passed the tape to Mark Bright, who thought it would be a good song for James. "It's one of those songs where you're so glad the entire song lives up to the quality of the first line," James notes.
"We had recorded it in the studio, and I was just about to go on stage to perform a showcase for Warner Bros. Records, when the songwriter stopped backstage to say "Hi," James says. "He said, 'I love what you did with "Angels Don't Fly." Your version would even make Jones proud.'
"I thought, 'Jones....Jones...?" Who's Jones?'" he says. "it was then that they told me George Jones had cut this song! I am such a fan of his but we used a different arrangement, and I didn't recognize the song. It's probably a good thing...I would have been too nervous to sing if I had known."
The song is indicative of the whole album. Putting his best into a song is something James Prosser achieves throughout Life Goes On by singing straight from the heart--singing believable songs that convey his genuine warmth and sincerity to listeners.