James Rhodes has no formal academic musical education or dedicated mentoring. The title of the debut album "Razor Blades Little Pills and Big Pianos", hints at the suffering that dogged Rhodes's childhood and early adult life. Classical music became his solace and key to his survival. It was Bach, Beethoven and Chopin, not Faith Hope and Charity,that offered comfort.
In 1993, mental health issues stopped him taking up a scholarship to the Guildhall. A chance meeting, 10 years later, with Franco Panozzo, agent to Russian concert pianist virtuoso, Grigori Sokolov. Panozzo arranged for James to have a brief tutorage by the renowned piano teacher Edoardo Strabbioli in Verona Italy.
Suffering further setbacks due to health issues it was not until 2008, when Rhodes met his present manager, Denis Blais, that he was encouraged to record his first CD. This enabled him to bare his soul and put many of the ghosts of the past to rest.
With Blais, Rhodes also created a distinctive and unique approach to how the classical piano repertoire should be presented. Uncomfortable with the austere and traditional ‘white tie and tails’ recital they decided it was time for the performer to communicate directly with the audience. Rhodes was going to introduce his own programme notes and share what it takes to perform these works of art using fascinating anecdotes about the composers and his own life experience. Delivered in his unique trademark stand-up style he creates an immersive experience that has won him and classical music a dedicated new following.
2008/2009 saw his profile go from complete unknown to rising star, attracting celebrity followers such as Stephen Fry and Sir David Tang. Having performed in non-traditional classical venues such as the 100 Club, the Tabernacle and Proud Galleries, James built on this new revolutionary performance approach. The pinnacle performance being at London’s historical Roundhouse where he was the first classical pianist to perform since it’s reopening.
RAZOR BLADES, LITTLE PILLS AND BIG PIANOS (Signum Records)
Release date: February 2009
NOW WOULD ALL FREUDIANS PLEASE STAND ASIDE (Signum Records)
Release date: March 2010
BULLETS & LULLABIES (WARNER BROS – WCJ)
Release date: December 2010
JIMMY: JAMES RHODES LIVE IN BRIGHTON (Signum Classics)
Release date: May 2012
Agent: Denis Blais Management