James Downham and Victoria Bertini to sing “O Canada” at University of Waterloo Canada Day Celebrations!

James Downham and the SHOT Season 1 winner, Victoria Bertini, will kick off this year’s Canada Day festivities at the University of Waterloo’s Columbia Lake Fields with their rendition of ‘O Canada at 4pm on Wednesday, July 1st.  The annual celebration attracts more than 50,000 visitors for a day of free entertainment, activities, and a fantastic fireworks finale.  This year Kim Mitchell and the Juno-nominated group, the Strumbellas will rock the main stage!  Hope to see you there!!

James Downham Added to Cambridge Ribfest Line-Up

I’m totally stoked to announce that I’ve has just been added to the entertainment line-up of the 2015 Rotary Cambridge Ribfest!  The annual event takes place in Riverside Park in Cambridge August 7th – 9th, and is a fun, family-friendly event.  Non-stop entertainment through the weekend includes children’s performers, entertainment for the grown-ups, and, of course, plenty of ribs to go around! I’ll be performing with the full band at 9:15 on Saturday, August 8th.

Sneak Peek: Photo Shoot with Sylvia Pond Photography!

Photo by Sylvia Pond Photography.
Photo by Sylvia Pond Photography.

By participating in THE SHOT Season 2, I had the great fortune of meeting Sylvia Pond, the photography sponsor.  As the winner, I had the even greater fortune of winning a photo shoot with her! I was so excited!  I’ve been wanting to get new photos taken for some time – for the website, for the album, and for other promotional purposes.  Sylvia had taken some absolutely amazing pics at THE SHOT, so I knew I was in for something great!  We got together on the afternoon of April 29ths.  It had been a cool grey day – I was so bummed out because I thought we’d have to cancel. But as we got closer to the scheduled time, the clouds began to part and Sylvia assured me that conditions were perfect.  We met at Sylvia’s studio, took some shots there, and then headed out in search of “urban industrial” backdrops.  In all we spent about four hours at different locations around downtown Kitchener.  Sylvia has an eye for great backdrops – textures, colours, and contrast – as you can see with this old garage door we found. Without giving away too much, we got some great shots near Krug furniture, on Gaukel near Kitchener City Hall, and along King Street.This is just a sneak peek of what Sylvia captured with her lens. I can’t wait to share more here in the coming months – Stay tuned!


Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate performs the World Premiere of the new, original musical, You Never Know

On April 24th, KCI performed the World Premiere of You Never Know, a completely new original musical written, directed, and produced by KCI teachers, Mark Smith and Pierre Sandor.  You Never Know is set in the 70’s and follows a pair of talented sisters as they strive for stardom to escape from their small town life. The musical features a the song Hopeless Romantic, written by James Downham and Mark Smith.  In the musical storyline, Hopeless Romantic is penned by Todd as a means to confirm his feelings for Lorraine. When he sends the lyrics to her by mail, Ruby Lips takes the song as her own and adds it to her live show with Lorraine taking on lead vocals. The song makes Lorraine a star, but sooner or later the truth has to come out!  The Original Cast Recording of You Never Know features vocal performances by the cast.

Website Refresh!

Well, I decided it was about time for an overhaul of my website.  The timing is right, as I’ve started a new chapter in my music career.  I’ve got a different sound, and a different look, and so the website was in dire need of a refresh.  I’m hopeful that lots of exciting things are in store, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you here! Stay tuned for new pics, video and more!

Spoke: Would you have had a shot?

Article appearing in Spoke, the Newspaper of Conestoga College’s Journalism Program (link to original article):

Would you have had a shot?

Kitchener Citizen: Students hoping to get The Shot at voice contest

Students hoping to get The Shot at voice contest

From left: Students Jessica Bell from Wilfrid Laurier, Pam Olayemi from Wilfrid Laurier, and Melissa Koehler from University of Waterloo sing during a mentoring session at the Waterloo Inn as part of The Shot vocal contest. Bell and Olayemi are two of the eight finalists.

From left: Students Jessica Bell from Wilfrid Laurier, Pam Olayemi from Wilfrid Laurier, and Melissa Koehler from University of Waterloo sing during a mentoring session at the Waterloo Inn as part of The Shot vocal contest. Bell and Olayemi are two of the eight finalists.

by Helen Hall
Kitchener Citizen
March 19, 2015​​

They sang. They danced. They accepted compliments and criticism and then they sang again. They were all hoping it was their chance at The Shot.

Over 85 students from Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Waterloo and Conestoga College participated in a voice contest called The Shot last weekend. By Sunday, it was pared down to just eight finalists.

The eight finalists are Jessica Bell, Emily Cortolezzis, James Downham, Matt Giblin, Tausha Hanna, Chelsea Marr, Pam Olayemi, Vincenzo Romualdi and Sarah Russo.

This is the second time The Shot competition has been held in Waterloo Region. It is the brainchild of C.J. Allen of Kitchener.

Allen has had a whirlwind career path since 2007, when he left Kitchener to go to South Korea to teach English. From his teaching career, he moved into working at a magazine that promoted English speaking talent and bands from that country. Then, he became a producer and writer for Korean television, and finally ended up as a judge on Top Talent Korea ​in 2013. All of this led him back home, where he started The Shot and is the CEO of Circus Music Company.

“I’m an advocate for emerging talent,” Allen said. “I’m like a music Dragon,” he said referring to the Dragon’s Den television show that helps entrepreneurs.

Allen is one of four judges on The Shot. He is joined by Stacey Zegers (lead singer of the Runaway Angel), Joni Nehrita (jazz, blues, pop singer) and Juneyt Yetkiner (Flamenco guitarist.)

The eight finalists will meet at the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts on March 21. The judges will reduce the finalists to four, and then the audience will pick the winner.

The winnings include a Brentwood limousine ride to a day of recording at Metalworks Studios in Mississauga with a Metalworks engineer, the chance to perform on stage at KOI Music Festival in downtown Kitchener, an acoustic guitar from Brickhouse Guitars, a professional photo shoot provided by Sylvia Pond Photography, a professional music video produced by Esteemedia Productions, a $500 gift certificate from Fairview Park Mall and The Shot trophy.

Doors open for the finale on March 21 at 5:30pm at the Conrad Centre in downtown Kitchener and the show starts at 6pm.

Tickets are $18 in advance online and $20 at the box office.