“I love telling stories. There’s no better story than driving down the coast with that guy or girl you love, singing at the top of your lungs with the top down. Sometimes the best stories in life are the simplest.”
Born in Buffalo, New York, singer/songwriter J4 has always had a passion for music. He discovered his talent while singing in church as a child, before moving to Nashville, Tennessee for high school. In between classes, he began performing daily at Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge and started co-writing with established songwriters like Jan Buckingham (Lee Greenwood, Whitney Houston, Tim McGraw, Pam Tillis), John Goodwin (Michael McDonald, Brad Paisley, Steely Dan) and James Breedwell (Joey Evancho, Kechi, Jeffrey Li, Barry Darcy).
What are your fondest music memories from growing up in New York?
One of my first musical memories growing up in New York was actually my first real “gig” when I was 11. My grandfather, who was a proud supporter of the local volunteer fire department, volunteered me to perform for the opening of the new Boston Town Fire House. For the event, my dad and I unearthed an old town song from the early 1900s and we put the words to music, which was my first time I had ever written anything musical.
Another very fond memory of mine is when I competed in the New York State Talent Competition at 13, in which I sang “Imagine” by John Lennon. It was always a song that tugged at my heart, and I loved the simple but unifying message of the song. After many rounds of performing and traveling around New York, I ended up tied for first place with a dance troop from Brooklyn.
Lastly, one of the most defining musical experiences of my time in New York was performing at Carnegie Hall at 15 for the World Choir Competition. Our choir took first place and we ended up singing an encore African American spiritual I got the solo for, and for the first time, I got to sing a solo on the world stage. Being on that stage where all the great artists and musicians before me had been was absolutely incredible, and I can still see the view to this day.