Nashville resident James Breedwell is active in the Nashville singer and songwriter community. When we asked him for some information for an article about his endeavors, we were surprised at some of the answers forthcoming from this gentleman.
Q: James, tell us where you are from and just when and how you got to Nashville?
A: "Well, Nancy, I moved to town from the Cincinnati, Ohio area about 20 something years ago with the car that my daddy gave me. He took my old car. He said, “James, close your eyes and stick out your hand.” Then he dropped his keys into my hand. I made sure my wife and baby were taken care of (before I left).
On a Friday night I set off to meet a guy named Pete Strawn in Kentucky. We had never met in person yet but I had talked to him about 3 hrs on the phone at the most. He was another writer who lived in Nashville. I met him at a nightclub for the very first time, along with his wife. After he was done with his gig, I followed him to Nashville.
Half way to Nashville, we pulled into a little one-light town. It was foggy and you could barely see the Shell gas station sign that was broken. We pulled in to get gas. Pete got his gas and started his car. I got my gas and my car would not start. At that point we pushed my car to the side, Pete got in his car with his wife and they left me. All I was thinking about was selling everything I had, including the car just for a bus ticket home the next day. I can still see the night as I tell you this story and just how foggy it was.
I fell asleep knowing my dream had ended about going to Nashville. I was woken up by a bang on my car window. I could not see who it was so I asked, “Who is out there?” He said, “James, it’s Pete. Come on!” I said, “Where are we going?” He said, “I got us a hotel.” So I slept in that hotel on that night.
The next morning I got up, went behind the dumpster and got sick. Pete and Debbie took me back to my car. I got in the car, I turned the key and it would not start. At that time I thought Pete would surely leave. Again he said, “Come on.” He took me to get parts for my car, he put them on the car. Then he said, “Get in there and start that car up!” I jumped in the car, turned that key and guess what? Nothing happened.
With little money at all, I knew that was it. Then all of a sudden, the guy working at the Shell gas station came out waving a big old hammer in the air. He must have been nothing but 90 lbs. I thought he was going to hit me because I didn't have permission to park there. He came close to me, then shot underneath the car. I heard him pounding on something underneath there. From underneath the car I hear his voice say, “Try it now.” I got in the car and I turned that key and it cranked right up. Something about 'a starter', he said.
That day I rolled into Nashville for the very first time with $20 in my pocket, a guitar, a bunch of songs and pocket full of dreams. I slept on the floor at Pete’s house. I ate crackers and salad for two weeks with the $20 I had.
I left my car and started walking. I got a job as a cook at the Ramada Inn. I worked until I got my first check. I sent money home to the family. Then I went out looking for another job. I got my second job at the Olive Garden as a cook. I worked until I could afford my own place.
Once I got my own place, I went to The Bluebird Cafe. I knew I could not sing inside the Bluebird but no one said I could not sing outside the Bluebird. So I pulled my car up, sat on the hood and started playing my songs. Then into my third song, this lady came up to me. I stopped singing. I apologized because I thought I was disturbing her. She said I was not disturbing her. She liked what she heard. She introduced herself but she didn't have to. She was the owner of the Bluebird. I had watched the 48 Hour Series on CBS TV about a year before (while I was still in Cincinnati) in which they were doing a story about The Bluebird Cafe and Nashville singers and songwriters. She said that she wanted to see me in her office that next Wednesday. I was there 30 minutes early for the appointment. I remember walking down the stairs and seeing all the pictures on the walls of legendary artists and writers.
In the meeting she told me she loved what she heard and that I had some great songs. She told me,
“James, there are a lot of people that have been here a lot of years and have great songs. It’s all in the networking. Write with as many people as you can, be honest in all that you do and get a real job.”
I told her I had two jobs under my belt and I was going to take her advice.
So with that I wrote with 50 people in my first 6 months in town. If you had a sign that said, “I will write for food.” I would write with you. Since that day I have written with over 1,000 writers.
Q: James, tell us about some of the cuts for your songs?
I have written with 7 #1 songwriters of the year, over 20 major artists including Blake Shelton , Florida Georgia Line, Joe Nichols, Craig Morgan, and Dean Sams from Lonestar. I have had 4 major publishing deals. My last signing before my current one was with BMG Chrysalis. http://www.bmgchrysalis.com and recently, I just signed with William Berry Publishing.
A: I have gotten cuts throughout my career in TV series:
I got a cut with Markus Fox’s single “I’ll Be Around” which went to number four on Itunes.
I got a cut with Sarabeth who was in the Top Ten Artists on CMT.
Apple and Microsoft licensed a song called “My House.”
I got a cut with Jackie Evancho “Teaching Angels How To Fly” (Simon Cowell signed her from the ‘America’s Got Talent’ TV show).
I have also received 6 cuts in the UK.
I got a cut on the project “It Goes A Little Something Like This. http://www.itgoesalittlesomethinlikethis.com/index.html
Recently, I wrote for Home Depot.
I continue to write with a lot of people from the Voice, American Idol and The X Factor.
Q: What else have you done in Nashville?
A: For 6 years I have had a successful songwriter’s radio show. http://www.nbrn.fm
In 2012 I won the Board of Directors Award for the Tennessee Songwriters Association.
For the third year, ours was one of the most popular writers’ night series at Dave and Buster’s at The Opry Mills Mall, just 90 feet away from the Grand Ole Opry. You can almost hear the banjos.
In 2014 I was featured in Billboard magazine as a writer.
At a formal dinner in February 2014 at the Renaissance Hotel, the song I wrote with Ryan Wotherspoon called "Destination to Love" was listened to by: The Princess of Jordan, The Governor of TN, Bill Haslam, The Mayor of Nashville Karl Dean, and Senators.
I was the director and producer of “In My Bible” artist Lynn Bryant.
Accepting Board of Directors’ Award of the Tennessee Songwriters Association is shown in the video of James receiving the Board of Directors’ Award. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhQ23DU_jqU
I thank God for everything he has done including the door he has opened and he has closed. Just as long as I follow his directions, I know I will be alright.
Q. Thank you so much for your time and we wish you much continued success in your music career here in Nashville.
A. Thank you for your time and God Bless.
Note: You can find James Breedwell on his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/james.breedwell.1
(Note: this article was previously published on Examiner by one of the writers of this blog.)