James was born in Ipswich and was an academic scholar at Leicester Grammar School whilst a chorister at Leicester Cathedral. He then held a Choral Scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read Geography, followed by a Lay Clerkship at St John’s College. Thereafter James attended the Royal College of Music and the RCM International Opera School, generously supported by the Musicians Benevolent Fund, a Sybil Tutton Award, Independent Opera, and the Sir Thomas Allen Scholarship.
James’ recent solo concert appearances include Mendelssohn Elijah with the London Symphony Orchestra and Kurt Masur, Orff Carmina Burana with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra and Gerhard Markson, Rossini Stabat Mater with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra in Dublin, Handel Samson with the Irish Baroque Orchestra, Haydn Nelson Mass with the Manchester Camerata and with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Purcell Fairy Queen in the Wigmore Hall, Handel Messiah with the Huddersfield Choral Society (recorded live), and Mozart Mass in c minor in Gdansk for Polish radio.
His operatic engagements include Achilla in Handel Giulio Cesare for Opera North, Ludd in Ludd & Isis for Royal Opera House, Figaro in Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro for Garsington Opera, and Nick Shadow in Stravinsky Rake’s Progress for Gothenburg Opera. In 2010 he received the Leonard Ingrams Award from Garsington Opera.
James has taught singing at Tiffin since 2014, and also teaches at Dulwich College and Emanuel School. He lives in Banstead with his wife and two young children.