Sylvia St. James
Sylvia St. James: I learned how to sing harmonies and gospel music from my beautiful and musically gifted mother, Patricia. My mother was the church pianist and first soprano vocalist for years as I was growing up. I also learned from my grandparents who participated in the church choir and allowed me to join them in worship services. I developed a love of classical music and jazz from my mother as well and was rewarded with a scholarship to the study opera at the Chicago Conservatory at the age of 15 when I was the first freshman to be accepted into the a capella choir. Due to a move with my family I was unable to accept that scholarship but my destiny in music would not be denied. I became part of rock fusion and jazz fusion bands and toured throughout Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Chicago area with Family at Max, Sweet Bottom, and performed with the orchestra in Milwaukee. I continued to participate in choirs and doo wop groups and to explore the world of jazz as I later moved to California on my musical and spiritual journey and became a part of Shiva Orchestra, a group of more than 120 musicians and singers from all over the world. While in Shiva Orchestra I recorded independently with George Duke, Stanley Clarke, and Hugh Masekela. My love of world music deepened as I studied ancient sacred music from India, Africa, Egypt, England, Ireland, etc. I later auditioned for Connie Stevens and performed with her in Las Vegas and toured with her to England and France. I then became part of an R&B group called Side Effect and recorded two albums for Fantasy Records, produced by Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders. I began to write and was privileged to record works with Ronnie Laws, Hubert Laws, wrote and recorded “Magic Mystic Faces” and “Gloomy Day” for Gabor Szabo and wrote with Mr. Henderson “Mysterious Maiden” for his album with them before recording my own critically acclaimed solo albums for Elektra Records, Magic and Echoes and Images recently re-released which briefly reflect my love of the musics of the world. I have been blessed to record and perform with some of the greatest artists of all time, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Andrea Bocelli, Garth Brooks, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Bublé, etc., and I was recently privileged to have myself and my choir featured on “Let It Go” from Jacky Cheung’s new multi platinum release “Private Corner”. For the past 16 plus years now I have been honored to design, develop and serve as Producer, Director, Coordinator and Lead Mistress of Ceremonies for the World Famous House of Blues Sunday Gospel Brunch. I am also currently teaching a class at Musicians Institute of Hollywood, California where I am blessed to share my experience in the sacred arts and my love of traditional and contemporary gospel music with students from all over the world!