In just a few short days, Shawn James will be returning to the Mile High City in support of his recently released album “The Dark and The Light.” Before we head down to Globe Hall on Saturday to catch what will surely be a sensational show, we reached out to get to know the man behind this incredibly soulful, powerful and meticulously-crafted music.

TMN: Thanks so much for taking some time to answer a few questions ahead of your show in Denver. Is this your first time in the Mile High City?

No problem! Thanks for the interview! It’s not my first time in Denver.

I’ve been coming there since 2013 typically playing a few shows a year while on tour. I’ve got a great group of friends/fans and the shows always seem to keep growing and getting better. It’s one of my favorite cities to play.

TMN: You’re currently touring on the heels of your recently released The Dark & The Light. How has the reception been so far?

Incredible. Better than I even expected honestly. It’s been the strongest set of songs I’ve ever released in terms of positive response & interaction.

TMN: “Orpheus” is one of our personal stand-outs. It’s absolutely larger than life, as is a lot of your music. Talk to us about the vision behind that one.

I’ve always been obsessed with mythology, legends & folklore. The story of Orpheus & Eurydice has always been one of my favorites and I finally felt like I was ready to tell it in my own way. I tell it from the first person perspective of Orpheus as he loses the love of his life and has to go through hell (literally) trying to save her only to lose her a second time. The story has this sad, tragic and yet beautiful element of not giving up even if the odds are impossible to achieve which I love. It’s very romantic to me in that sense. I think it could also be applied to lots of other life circumstances regarding death, addiction and the relentless aspect of truly not giving up.

TMN: This album is all about inspiring others to turn darkness into light. Knowing the music carries such an intimate personal connection, have you had any fans reach out and share what your music had done for them?

It blows my mind with just how many messages I receive everyday where people relate their personal stories and how my music has helped them through something. It give me a true purpose.

TMN: You draw on a lot of influences, and tastefully so — Americana, classic rock, blues, gospel. Did you grow up on legends of these genres? Or was it something that you happened upon later in life?

I grew up with Gospel music initially and then was introduced to opera/classical stuff. I got my soul from Gospel and the technical ability from the classical world. Then in high school I got into metal and hardcore music which was appealing to me because of the intensity of the sound and because it was so different than what I was used to. I really didn’t get into the legends of those genres till I was in my early 20’s.

TMN: Was your childhood musical? How did you first discover that you had this talent?

The best way I can put it is that I came into consciousness singing. I’ve never known a time when I wasn’t singing or playing music of some kind. Music was my escape, therapy & so much more.

TMN: Talk to us about the evolution from On the Shoulders of Giants to The Dark & The Light. To us, the former is gritty and raw, while the latter seems to incorporate more soul and gospel elements, especially on the instrumental front.

With OTSOG, I set out to make an album paying respect and drawing from old blues legends like Son House, Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf & others of that time. I recorded it at Sun Studios in Memphis to go even further into achieving that atmosphere/vibe. It was a very specific goal & sound with that one for sure.

With The Dark & The Light, I was ready to expand my sound and wanted to incorporate many more elements of my influences into one package which is why it’s got more soul, gospel, rock, blues, jazz and all those sounds. I’m very very happy with how it turned out. My producer Jimmy Messer was absolutely crucial in helping me flesh out that sound and make it a reality.

TMN: We absolutely loved your cover of Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Talk to us about the inspiration to tackle such a legendary track.

I honestly didn’t think too much about it. I love soulful singers and have always admired and played that song and it just felt right.

TMN: Alright – we know you grew up in Chicago, so we thought we’d wrap it up with a few quick, fun, Windy City questions.

Cubbies or White Sox:

I’m a bit conflicted on this one. I grew up on the South side so it was White Sox all day and part of me will always rep that. On the other hand, my dad was a huge Cubs fan and I have the nostalgia of watching games with him growing up.

TMN: Best Chicago dog in the city:

I know I’m gonna get a lot of blowback for this one but I’m not a big fan of hotdogs..

TMN: Best deep dish:


TMN: Best hot Italian beef sandwich:

Al’s Beef!

TMN: You can’t visit Chicago without doing this:

For me, it’s going to Greektown and getting some flaming saganaki & egg lemon soup.

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