James was eliminated after an honorable performance of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” during a battle round with contestant Austin Allsup, seen in the clip above.
James auditioned for the show in Memphis after his mother and publicist Kathy Best, who’s worked with the likes of Miranda Lambert, signed him up without him knowing.
“The whole thing was like the weirdest, crazy experience,” the 16-year-old tells Taste of Country of the whirlwind opportunity. “It’s kind of hard for me to believe that it happened, because my brain doesn’t compute that I was on TV. So I’m just still freaking out a little bit every time I think about it.”
He describes the moment of when Shelton turned his chair during the last five seconds of his performance, claiming him a spot on the Emmy Award-winning singing show. “I just heard the roar of people in the audience. It all happened so fast. It took me a second to catch up with real time,” he says of the moment Shelton turned around.
He tells us that the “Came Here to Forget” singer is just as funny and charming offstage as he is in front of the camera. “I’m so thankful and grateful for the opportunity to be on Team Blake. It’s still sinking in still now that I just thought about it again,” James says with a laugh.
But Shelton isn’t the only influential artist James had the chance to be inspired by, as Bette Midler served as a mentor for Shelton’s team.
“It is one of the weirdest experiences ever to walk in there and see Bette Midler sitting next to Blake Shelton in that room,” he says, adding that a seal of approval from the legendary singer and Hocus Pocus star on one of his signature performing moves was certainly a moment to remember. “So I’m doing something right, according to Bette Midler. That was a good feeling,” the young singer says.
Some of James’ favorite moments from being on the show actually took place behind the scenes. He tells us how oftentimes he and his fellow contestants would have secret jam sessions at their hotel, singing everything from Merle Haggard to the Black Eyed Peas. “Moments like that that were the most fun, just hanging out with everybody,” he reminisces. “We have a big melting pot of all different types of musicians.”
With these cherished memories come bonded friendships. “Some of the greatest friends I have right now are from the show,” James says, citing Charity Bowden, who was recently eliminated from Team Miley, and Riley Elmore as just two contestants who fit that category.
Now the singer is back in his hometown of Nashville and ready to move forward with his musical career, playing as many gigs as possible across the city.
“What’s next for me is just music,” James says about his upcoming plans. “You can’t stop it because I didn’t win my battle round. It’s still happening for me because I just live, breathe, eat, sleep music. That’s it.”
For more information on James’ music and his upcoming gigs, visit his official website.
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