James Dupré Interview

James Dupré Interview

by Savina Todorova for Country Music News International

James was handpicked by Randy and Mary Travis as guest vocalist on The Music of Randy Travis 2019 tour. James performed Randy Travis hits with Travis’s original touring band, and with Mr. Travis appearing at each event. Stops included the legendary Mother Church of Country Music, The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN, among others.

Savina Todorova: Where did the inspiration for the Home and Away album come from?

James Dupré: I wanted this album to reflect the best of who I am as an artist, both lyrically and musically. I’ve always leaned towards an acoustic sound, with various string instruments all coming together behind my vocals, and this album really feels like how I imagined it in my head.

Savina Todorova: You wrote almost every song on the record – what was the process of choosing what tracks would make the cut and what made “Higher High,” which you did not write, stand out?

James Dupré: I actually had a majority of the songs in mind long before production started, having written most of them several years beforehand. There were a couple of them that I wanted to put on my 2016 ‘Stoned to Death’ album, but for various reasons, they didn’t make the cut. So it was really nice to have a head start in that part of the process. ‘Higher High’ was written by a couple of friends of mine, Jared Hicks and Oran Thornton, and was pitched to me a few years ago. I immediately fell in love with it, and I really felt like I was meant to sing it. I told them I would put it on my next album, even if someone else got their hands on it first. Thankfully, no one else has, and it became the only outside cut on ‘Home and Away’.

Savina Todorova: Who inspires you musically?

James Dupré: I get most of my inspiration from artists who are great vocalists. A pure vocalist is really hard to find, ones who have such a unique tone or something that makes you recognize them immediately from the first note. Artists that come to mind are Vince Gill, Randy Travis, Ronnie Dunn, George Jones. However, with a great voice, you still need great songwriting. Along with the artists I just mentioned, I love writers who can also sing, like James Taylor, Miranda Lambert, Jackson Browne, John Mayer. I strive to be better in my craft, and those are the people that I try to emulate.

Savina Todorova: What do you think about today’s music industry?

James Dupré: It’s an industry like any other, highly competitive with lots of ups and downs. I think it’s gotten a lot more difficult for artists to stand out than it probably was 20 or more years ago, with so much saturation from social media platforms and streaming. However, it’s gotten a lot easier to succeed because of those very same things. Measuring success is different for everyone, but I define it as being able to make a living doing what I love, and I will continue to build on my success for as long as I am able.

Savina Todorova: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

James Dupré: As I said earlier, I’m a fan of true vocalists. When I was on The Voice, I was surrounded by vocalists, which is the nature of the show. Unfortunately, I just don’t hear that many great vocalists getting the attention they deserve. With so many advancements in studio technology these days, it’s really easy to make someone sound amazing until you hear them live on stage. There need to be more Whitney Houston’s, Michael Buble’s, Mariah Carey’s, Adele’s, Adam Levine’s, Charles Kelley’s, and so on. They’re out there, you just don’t hear them much.

Savina Todorova: As an artist, you do so much from writing, recording, touring and more. What do you like best and why?

James Dupré: That’s tough to say. I love touring because I get to travel and see so many places and meet so many great people. Being on stage and feeling the energy and having that party atmosphere is always a blast. I do, however, love being in the studio. I love the science behind the recording process, how a good producer always pushes me to my limits, and how you can hear a track being built layer by layer.

Savina Todorova: When you were just starting out how important was the support you received from friends and family to your success?

James Dupré: Extremely important. A lot of my first shows were mostly just me and my guitar, and the audience was mostly my family and friends. Their support was what I built my confidence on, and my ability to want to get better. Not only did I have their support, but the support of my entire hometown.

Savina Todorova: What was the first moment you realized you’d like to pursue a career in the music industry?

James Dupré: When I was in college for meteorology, I joined a band as a background vocalist. It was a good first spot for me because I didn’t yet have the confidence to be a lead singer. The more experienced I got, the more I felt like a music career was possible. However, it wasn’t until a few years later when I was invited to perform on The Ellen Show, that I realized that it was seriously happening. I moved to Nashville just a few months after and I’m so thankful that I’m still able to do it all these years later.

Savina Todorova: What can fans expect from you next?

James Dupré: Hopefully, we can get back to touring sometime later this year so I can finally start playing songs from my new album in front of a real audience. I’m also beginning to write for my next project, though that release will still be a little ways down the road.

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