Some people just have an it factor. Deron “Erthe St. James” James is one of those people.The Chi-town native and theatre senior evolved from the slim dude with the large voice, who walked around campus donning ankhs and wearing a guitar (Dean) across his back, to a local cultural mainstay.
James keeps an element of mystery, bluntness and beauty in his performances.
He resonates with crowds and will give Grambling State University and the surrounding areas a performance to remember.
His latest venture will be his most personal to date.
James will perform in a free vocal showcase Friday at 7 pm in the Floyd L. Sandle room of the Performing Arts Center. The “Erthe St. James Live in Grambling” show will combine two unlikely words: free and genius.
People can expect a classic Erthe performance mixed with the struggles of daily Deron. James is no stranger to making his art personal and conveying vulnerability and joy within his bars.
“I’m still a person, though it seems like I’m worthless,”James croons on his track “Under My Bridge.”
James wrote the song during post-Katrina chaos after he heard stories about governmental corruption, racial disparities, gentrification and New Orleans natives being treated inhumanely.
Their tales caused his voice to crack, eyes to mist and pen to create a magical serenade of pain and prosperity.
In the song he ultimately encourages people who confront metaphorical bridges to build, cross and tear down the bridges to their liberation.
That’s the kind of person James is. He routinely listens to the stories of others, internalizes their struggles and re-emerges with relatable art. He studies his craft, becomes absorbed by it and maintains his identity.
The first in his family to graduate high school and attend college, he knows that he is a familial role model. He knows that people need to see him succeed as a reminder that they can, too.
But, what he needs is music. And frankly, we need more artists of integrity and openness like him.
While James will headline the show, he will share the stage with opening acts Jerome Williams, a founder of Lyrical Quest performance arts troupe and Keith Brown, a member of Lyrical Quest.
The free spirit will debut original music and perform covers of popular songs. A Chicago native, proudly influenced by Gramblinite Erykah Badu, James’ kaleidoscopic gifts are guaranteed to touch the crowd.
The concert will be an opportunity for a rebirth of Erthe, said James.
Contact Deron James on Facebook and follow @erthestjames on Twitter for booking information.