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James Talley


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Oklahoma born singer/songwriter, James Talley, is an artist whose vision of the American experience, as author David McGee has said is “startlingly original.” As a youth, James’ family moved from Oklahoma to the state of Washington, where his father worked as a chemical operator in the now infamous Hanford plutonium factory. After five years in Richland, Washington, and realizing the hazards his father’s employment presented, the family relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico. James grew up in the rich tri-cultured environment of the Southwest, and graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in fine arts.

After college, encouraged by Pete Seeger while on a trip to New Mexico, James began to write songs that drew upon the culture of the Southwest he had experienced. These early songs eventually became The Road to Torreón, a saga of life and death in the Chicano villages of northern New Mexico. Released in a boxed edition by Bear Family Records in 1992, it is a powerful collaboration of photography and music, with a photographic essay contributed by James’ lifelong friend, photographer Cavalliere Ketchum.

In 1968 James moved from New Mexico to Nashville, Tennessee to try to get his songs released. Over the years Johnny Cash, Johnny Paycheck, Gene Clark, Alan Jackson, Hazel Dickens, and most recently Moby, and others, have recorded his songs. Joining country music and the blues, B. B. King, played his first Nashville session with James in 1976, as his lead guitar player.




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