Windy City Times

Jan James' first real singing experience was in the church choir as a kid in a small town the middle of the mitten in Michigan. She was also a theater/band geek in high school and through all of those experiences she learned how to work a stage.

"The house I grew up in was right next to my grandmother's working farm, so I spent a lot of time roaming the countryside and playing with cows and horses which I love," said James. "My family managed a small campground and bait shop on the Maple River for a while. One of the guys who camped there on the weekends was named Catfish, and he played a mean guitar. So I spent my summers learning how to play guitar and fish. As I learned how to play guitar, I found my voice."

James left her small town to attend Michigan State University where she studied art history, theater and communications.

"College is when I started hanging out at music venues," said James. "I would beg to sit in, anything to get stage time. I have this vivid memory of writing lyrics in a venue parking lot trying to create a song so the band would let me perform with them, and it worked. It got me in and everyone loved it. My bones would ache with the call of the stage.

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