Growing up amid the melodies and rhythms of everyday Manhattan, Tony's passion for music formed early. He studied cello and voice as a boy, drums and percussion as a teen, and guitar in later years.
At 15, he earned admission to New York's High School of Music & Art (the Fame school), learning music theory and performance. After classes, Tony polished his skills onstage by playing with various bands in legendary New York nightclubs like the Ritz and CBGB's.
After attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, the world's premier institution for contemporary music study, Tony's professional career was launched in 1987. He quickly became one of New York's most sought after drummers and percussionists.
Tony's career includes work with Cyndi Lauper, Billy Squier, Dave Koz, Brenda K. Starr (w/Mariah Carey), Coolio, Lenny Kravitz, PM Dawn, Charles & Eddie, Noel, David Yazbek, Darden Smith, and Jeffrey Gaines.
As an artist, Tony co-founded MAGGIE'S DREAM, which recorded two albums for Capitol Records. With its blend of urban funk and hard rock, Maggie's Dream was hailed as a movement ahead of its time. Adding dance and theater to his portfolio, Tony earned a role as part of the original American cast of the off-Broadway show STOMP in 1994.
As Composer & Musical Director for the play RAKSHA'S CHILD, Tony won special recognition by the New York Times.
From 1998-2005, Tony starred in the Emmy-nominated and three- time Parent's Choice Award winning Disney Channel series, OUT OF THE BOX!. He and co-star Vivian Bayubay played caregivers to a cast of ethnically diverse children, helping them explore ordinary life through music, art and dramatic play.
His numerous TV musical performances include appearances on Roseanne, The Tonight Show, and the Jerry Lewis Telethon.
This is music for us, that generation raised in the Seventies and Eighties on a blend of album rock, hard-edged soul, and the strains of New Wave. We still like our music rocking and melodic, but it’s not about first loves and fast cars any more. Life has taken us to school. Some dreams realized, many more dashed. Married with children, divorced and alone. Gods lost and found and sometimes lost again. Our music has to speak to us—that generation… now!
Tony James does just that. In the eleven original compositions on his long-awaited solo debut, Tony James showcases the unique gifts that have won him acclaim as a musician and stage performer.
Tony James displays a versatile range of styles and sounds, drawing on two decades as a worldwide performer. Piercing lyrics sung in a compelling, yearning voice provide convincing evidence of music’s redemptive power in this artist’s life
Urgent, percussion-driven tunes such as “Get to Me” and “Heaven” hearken to Tony’s early career as one of New York’s most sought-after drummers and a founder of the pioneering band Maggie’s Dream (Capitol Records) with Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and producer Robi Rosa (Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias).
In acoustic strummers such as “The Lesson” and “So Much to Live,” Tony reflects on life’s big questions with understated, musical grace. In “Fine” and “Strong Enough to Smile,” Tony delivers hope with passion and precision.
“So Much to Live” earned Tony a 2006 Los Angeles Music Award nomination as Adult Alternative Male Singer/Songwriter of the Year. The song was also nominated for a New Mexico Music Award as Best Rock/Adult Contemporary song.
Even before co-founding Maggie’s Dream, Tony established himself as a premier studio and stage performer by working with artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Billy Squier, Brenda K. Starr (with Mariah Carey), Lenny Kravitz, Coolio, PM Dawn, Charles & Eddie, Dave Koz, Darden Smith, David Yazbek, and Jeffrey Gaines. Tony also won acclaim as costar of the Emmy-nominated Disney series Out of the Box and as an original U.S. cast member of the Off-Broadway sensation STOMP.
All of those experiences, it seems, contributed richly to this collection. But Tony James also unveils a portrait of the artist that’s more complete than fans may realize. In addition to playing drums and percussion, Tony composed all the songs (except one, co-written with Julian Harris); produced the album; played acoustic guitar, electric guitars, organ, piano, and strings; and provided lead and backing vocals on all the tracks.
Tony James is supported by a world-class lineup of musicians, including guitar virtuoso/co-producer Larry Mitchell; multi-platinum artist Billy Squier (The Stroke, In the Dark, My Kinda Lover); Jon Kurzweg (Creed, Puddle of Mudd); songwriter/producer Jeff Coplan (Zomba/BMG); bassist/producer Nicola Stemmer (Violent Femmes, David Yazbek) and guitarist Vini Miranda (Dido).
On the opening track, Tony sings “Won’t you let me in the foreground?” By the end of this much anticipated album, there’s no question: Tony James belongs there.