Grammy Nominee and Actor Luke James on the Intersection of Business and Creativity

An exclusive interview with ONE37pm

Luke James has an effervescent presence. After his visit to the ONE37pm office, no less than ten people approached me asking, “Who is that guy?” He carries himself with self-confidence and understated electricity—like he recharges his battery at night to illuminate every room he walks into the next day. The energy is contagious but in a quiet whisper.

As our interview progressed, James settled into his own, providing deep and insightful responses. Keep reading for the down-low on the new album, to feel love/d, the upcoming tour and why every artist desperately needs a business brain.

ONE37pm: When did you first discover music?

Luke James: Oh, I'm not sure if I was truly cognizant of what I was discovering 'cause I think I had to have been in the womb when it all came to me. I think that's an honest answer. I'm not trying to be like deep or esoteric or something like that.

How have you juggled your many creative pursuits?

James: Great team. Like every part of my team is in cahoots better than they're in cahoots with me. It's really cool. They figure it out and they map it out and, you know, I can just dream and create and they just make it happen.

List the places you've lived.

James: Well, of course, New Orleans—it's where I'm from. Los Angeles, California, New York, Miami, Atlanta, London. Just for a little bit.

What’s one aspect of your profession that you knew nothing about? How did you adapt?

James: A lot of strategy that goes into putting your art out and that doesn't exactly lend to the idea of when you get to become, well, when you make your dream happen, which if your dream is like to be an artist, that's all you have to do. That's all you get to do. There's more to that. So you have to learn how to put the business mind on rather than sit back and let the creative energy flow, which is more fluid and less contrived and not as much thought. It's more, as it is a feeling, but the business side is a lot of thought and that takes time to learn that and to understand that.

What do you consider your greatest failure to date? What did it teach you?

James: Not hanging with Prince when I was asked to come and create and hang and just see how he makes music. That's my greatest regret.

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How do you take your coffee?

James: Wow. Um, with agave.

What is your favorite project you've worked on to date? What are you most proud of?

James: I'm most proud of in totality to be fair, in film, doing The New Edition Story. The opportunity to act and to portray such people. But I think more for me, I think it was the motivation that it gave people kids all over, little black kids to see other little black kids, on TV dancing and singing and I guess for lack of a better phrase, living their best life and showing them that, you know, it's OK to sing and dance and be friends and have quarrels and somehow, someway you have to find yourselves back together again with that same love.

Tell us about the moment you realized that you would make it in your industry.

James: Maybe it was a time in church. I finally got a solo—they finally gave me my chance to sing something by myself. [singing] Amazing Grace. How sweeet...I didn't like the song, they didn't give me nothing that I could really go there with, but it was cool.

How much do you think your success is due to hard work versus luck?

James: I think they both go hand in hand. Hard work, persistence and grueling hours of perfecting what it is you do and putting that out and letting people have that and hear that and live with it. Hate it, love it. But constantly putting back, putting it out, putting no matter what. But then waiting for that moment to hit where it's like that magic hour, that lucky time. The world is in a weird place and people just want to be happy and then all of a sudden you've been working so hard and you happen to have a song that's called "Happy" and it just comes out, and it just moves all these people and everybody just wants to be happy and there you go. Luck.

Who are your biggest influences, creatively or personally?

James: One of my biggest influences is my mom, her hustle, her consistent love. And I mean artists, you know, I think of all of the different people like Wesley Snipes, Denzel Washingtons and the Sammy Davis Juniors and all of that stuff I really took a big interest in. Those are the people that kinda, that basically inspired me to pursue what I'm doing.

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