Beginning with “Real,” James Wesley Aims to Create a Lasting Mark
Back when James Wesley worked in construction, he made a tradition of etching his name in wet concrete — leaving a permanent, personal touch at whatever site he was working. So, it was only right for him to carry out the practice while working on the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in downtown Nashville.
The name “James Wesley” is under the feet of an angel statue that is, coincidentally, across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Wherever I was working, I figured I’d make my mark,” he said.
Now, he has a Top 25 song on country radio in “Real” and he’s working towards making a mark on Nashville in a different way.
But this recent success isn’t his first go-round. In 1999, he released an album for Warner Bros. under his given name, James Prosser. With little support from the label the album flopped.
Worn from the cruelties of the business, Wesley and his wife moved back to Arkansas to focus on what meant the most — family. He worked general maintenance and landscaping during the day, but kept his musical chops fresh by playing a nightly country music show. He’d sometimes put in 18-hour days.
“I came to my wife one day and said ‘I’m burning the candle at both ends,’” Wesley said. “I told her I felt like I needed to give (music) another shot.”
They put their house up for sale and it sold in just four months. Then he and his wife, this time with a daughter in tow, moved back to Music City.
“You never want to give up. I just didn’t’ want regret,” Wesley said. “I’m glad we did what we did.”
The pieces started to fall in place and Wesley found himself in a recording studio with his producer, listening to a demo of “Real.” Immediately, he related with the sentiments of the song.
“I know what it’s like to try to make a dollar and beat the check to the bank,” Wesley said. “It hit me… that’s where I’ve been. I did that up until a year ago.”
“Real” debunks the image of life on reality TV shows, while touting the efforts of farmers, soldiers, and regular people just trying to make a living. It’s mainstream Nashville’s 2011 version of a working man’s anthem.
“I think that we’re all in that boat with the economy and the way it is,” Wesley said. “Even the artists, we all have the same feelings too. It was just one of those songs that are just so relatable.”
On March 22, at Cowboy’s in Orlando, Fl., the crowd sang along to every word of the song. For Wesley, the scene was lightyears away from an unsupportive record label and the grueling 18-hour work days.
“It’s like night and day,” he said. “I’m with Broken Bow and they are so excited and so behind what we got out there.”
He’ll will be playing for larger audiences come this summer. Taylor Swift hand-picked him to open for her on six “Speak Now Tour” dates.
“Hopefully this deal with Taylor will open some doors for me that haven’t been open yet,” Wesley said. “Who knows? I may have people opening up for me before long.”
It never hurts to dream.
“I’m just having a good time getting out there and enjoying the music.”
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