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Meet Erica James of ELJ Music in West Midtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erica James.

Erica, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It all started in Brooklyn, NY; that’s where I was raised. I went to PS 256 for elementary school and during my time there I was a member of the Glee Club. It was the beginning of my love for music and so I spent many nights listening to R&B, trying to get every riff and note perfect. I was so dedicated that upon graduating, my salutatorian plaque read, “Future Career – Teacher and Singer.”

My enthusiasm for music wasn’t entirely supported by my grandmother and so, as I went through my years of schooling, she always reminded me that singing was okay but I needed to have a back-up. I heeded her advice and studied Physical Therapy in college. I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Inc. which afforded me the chance to sing at various school functions. In my mind, I was always going to get back to singing, so I wanted to perform whenever I could.

Somewhere in the midst of all that fun and singing, I found myself pregnant in my junior year. It was a very chaotic time; trying to navigate school, pending motherhood, and having a social life. It was a juggling act but of course, motherhood and school had to take priority. I focused my energies on making sure I could provide for my daughter and so I completed my Bachelor and Master of Science in Physical Therapist in 2003.

Having this huge accomplishment didn’t stifle my love for music, and so when I came back home I searched for opportunities to get back in the game. I was writing songs, auditioning for producers, and recording a demo. Just as it seemed things were looking up, my daughter fell ill. The culprit… juvenile diabetes at the age of two. It was devastating. I blamed myself and hated that my baby girl had to endure four shots a day and countless finger pricks. I had all that I could take in New York and so a suggestion by sorority sister to move to Atlanta became a reality.

I wanted to just hit the do-over button, but all that I could do was try to be a better me and support my daughter through this illness. Music, well it was no place for it. I literally fell out of love with the gift that was once my safe haven. I became withdrawn from music altogether, getting angry at friends that even mentioned singing.

I focused my efforts on getting my license to practice in Georgia and building my reputation as one of the best at rehab medicine. Through this time, I managed to get married, get divorced, find myself, become a yoga teacher, and heal. That’s when the music whispered in my ear, and I realized I was content but not fulfilled.

I have a wonderful career as a Physical Therapist, but my passion never had a chance to live…until now. Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” I answer, “It becomes a nightmare.” Overcoming stage fright, feeling too old, and learning something new are a few challenges, but I know that I would be letting myself down if I didn’t try. So here I am!

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t been a smooth road, but I wouldn’t change that. Vocally, I have had to take lessons to just get back to my full range and re-learn how to breathe. It’s easy to breath when you don’t think about it, but as a singer, you are always aware of your breath control. In addition, getting on stage can be intimidating. I’ve always had stage fright and so I had to definitely find a system that would calm my spirit. I meditate, do a few QiGong poses and put a little Het Heru oil on before performing.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am a singer, songwriter, and rapper, but I don’t say I’m a rapper. I’m a “baricist.” I specialize in making music that speaks to your spirit. It’s not gospel, but it speaks to the divine in you. I’m not sure I’m “known” yet lol, but people that have witnessed my performances say that there’s is a certain energy I exude and it feels good. I’m proud about releasing an EP, two singles, and my very first music video as an independent artist. What set’s me apart, is my relentless desire to help people to heal.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Atlanta is a wonderful place for an entrepreneur. I plan on fusing music, yoga, and art together and I couldn’t think of a better place to be. There’s so much creative energy out here and camaraderie in the music scene.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Brian Dwayne

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