After James’ father died, his Greek stepfather introduced him to the Pentecostal church,where his vocal talent was recognized immediately and put to use in the choir. A childprodigy, Shawn entered a number of vocal competitions, with a multi-octave range thatmakes him unique as an artist. He didn’t start playing acoustic guitar until high schooland didn’t start writing songs seriously until he was in his mid-twenties. Studyingclassical music helped him hone his vocal technique, but he learned to let looseemotionally in church. “I had the mix of both worlds,” he says.Much of those ministers’ fiery rhetoric resonated with James, whose music offers acongregation with no borders or boundaries. “I’ve found that my songs with the biggestimpact are the ones that inspire people, and try to lift them up,” he says. “Fans tell mehow these songs saved their lives. Is there any greater accomplishment than that? Ifully embraced that on this album. These days, people need encouragement, and I justwanted to contribute.”The new album is James’ fourth solo effort, following his 2012 debut, Shadows , 2014’sDeliverance and 2016’s On theShoulders of Giants , in addition to a live release ( Live at the Heartbreak House ) and a two-song covers EP recorded while on tour in Madrid(including set staples “That’s Life” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”). His songs have beenfeatured on HBO, CBS and SonyPlaystation’s The Last of Us 2 videogame, with thetrack, “Through the Valley,” topping Spotify’s Global Viral Charts, while generating morethan 60 million streams combined on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. More recently,he recorded a soulful take onMacy Gray’s Grammy-winning “I Try” for Grammy.com’s“Grammy Reimagined” series.Shawn maintains a busy slate of performances in the U.S. and abroad. “I love touringbecause I want to earn what I get, work for it every day,” says Shawn, admitting that’sthe hard-hat blue-collar attitude he inherited from his biological dad. “I enjoy the strugglebecause that’s what makes it all worthwhile.“I enjoy meeting and talking to new people. I don’t hide in the green room before andafter the show. I’m out there shaking hands, pressing the flesh, and hearing theirstories. That’s the reason we do this.”Pointing to “authentic” performers like Tom Waits (“He has an impeccable ‘no bullshit’compass”), soul singers like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke or Bill Withers, and the old bluesicons who inspired him, James explains, “They weren’t precious about what they did;they didn’t put themselves on a pedestal. I want my music to be respected, but I’ll stillsit down at the bar to have a beer with you. My goal is to make music that stands thetest of time.”With The Dark & the Light, Shawn James has done just that. He has flipped the script,moving from darkness to light on the strength of song.