Finding Voice – the Gospel


Florence, Italy. May 2015.

Finding Voice has been perhaps my greatest journey yet.

To say I travel alone would be a bit of a lie…
My Voice (along with my Lens) is my travel companion.
And I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it.

So, yes, I’ve sung a lot of Jazz… but finding the Gospel – that was a real miracle.
And of all places to find it…

Let me take you there, now… to Florence, Italy.

Florence ~ my Italian city
Florence ~ my Italian city

So when I was living in Florence, besides from being the worst student ever,
chasing the shadows, and dancing around with Rose,
my greatest ambition was to sing. To find my voice – the voice I’d been
running away from for a few years…

In the past, being in the limelight has scared me
– the idea of my voice being used/misused, of stepping into a commercial world,
of ultimately losing my freedom – terrified me. Still does.

But I have a passion to sing, and after watching a performance one Christmas
of the Florence Gospel Choir on the Ponte Vecchio – I was hooked… and determined.

I have to get into that choir, I thought.
I need to get a solo.


I eventually found a way in.

Went to my first rehearsal – terrified – my Italian wasn’t that great
– didn’t really understand what was going on half the time – but I could sing.
Sing was one thing I could always do.

I managed to learn the songs and techniques quite quickly,
and kept up with the rest of the choir.

The Maestro asked me one day to sing a line from a new song we were rehearsing.
I did. He raised his eyebrows a bit and then asked me to sing another line. I did.
Next minute I was singing the whole song – all the while pooping my pants.
He seemed relatively satisfied but said I needed to give the song a bit more “Aretha” …

I swear, that one word changed the way I’ve sung ever since.
I gave it more Aretha. Got the solo. The rest is history for me.

Singing your heart out with such a heart-wrenching Gospel classic as “Sinner Please
in an old Italian Church in one of the most beautiful cities in the world
– that’s something I will never forget, and will always be thankful for.

I will always be thankful for the family I found in that choir, in those songs.
I will always be thankful for the lessons Gospel has taught me.
To let go – to sing as you feel – to open your mouth and let that Holy Spirit rush forth.

I will always be thankful for Finding Voice.

J x


  1. Dear James, I am always so amazed by your travelling stories, but today I am amazed by how you really gave it all in that performance. Mary has spoken to us and shown us clips or recordings of you singing, it is no doubt that you gifted, but here my friend, you are soulful. Incredible.

    1. Diana – thank you for taking the time to message – many don’t. And thank you so much for your words. I’d much rather be soulful than gifted so I take that as the highest compliment! God bless you, darling. Peace and light. J x.

  2. So beautiful James. Thank you for sharing your voice – amazing! What an inspirational moment. Your beautiful soul just shines through like gold when you sing 🙂

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