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Vanja James: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Keyboards, Violin, Vocals

Genre: Acoustic, Pop, Rock

Sound description: Cross between Norah Jones and Janis Joplin with shades of Leonard Cohen, Bonnie Raitt, Bright Eyes, and Tom Waits.

RIYL: Sheryl Crow, Linda Vickerman, David Beldock, Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, Janis Joplin, Candye Kane, Norah Jones

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Synoposis

Inception: San Diego, 2006

Influences: Leonard Cohen, Cole Porter, Jets to Brazil, Aretha Franklin, Nirvana, Mudhoney, Elliot Smith

Background:

Born and raised in San Diego, singer/songwriter Vanja James has been performing her acoustic and electric blues rock stylings for local audiences since summer 2006, other than a brief period spent in L.A..

With a musical history that includes DJing, classical guitar, and gospel choir, James got her start in songwriting during her senior year at UCSD (where she majored in theater) at age 19. It was in a “Singing for Actors” class that she met her vocal instructor Linda Vickerman.

Vickerman took James under her wing, taught her jazz and blues vocal techniques, and introduced her to guitar teacher (and future cowriting partner) David Beldock. James has returned to Beldock many times to work together on the guitar arrangements for her songs, which became a trademark part of her bluesy roots sound. She has toured with Cash'd Out as their June Carter, and sang backup for the punk band Nothington.

In late 2011, she began work on a new full-length (which she described as “very rock oriented”) with guest players Tommy Andrews, Damon De La Paz, Ismael Velasquez, and others. To cover costs, she emailed fans seeking donations. “This is a different project,” she said at the time, “with a name other than my own, and with a different sound.” She was nominated for a San Diego Music Award in 2012.

In 2013, James relocated to Los Angeles and formed the band Little Dove with drummer Dylan Cooper. Little Dove played over 25 shows in 2013 and got radio airplay nationally in several major U.S. cities, and in the UK and France. James relocated back to San Diego in summer 2015 and revised the Little Dove lineup to feature Kyle Areford on bass and Ryan Schilawski on drums and backing vocals.

James' song "Ring Ring Ring" was heard on the Bravo TV show Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce, and her single "Misery" from Little Dove's debut album was featured on the Showtime TV series Shameless.

In addition to fronting Little Dove, James has also played with a side project called Delaluz which features three-part vocal harmonies with Lauren Leigh Martin and Libby Lewis. Her studio project with pianist Ed Kornhauser has featured jazzy rearrangements of popular tunes like Danzig's "Mother," "Heart Shaped Box" by Nirvana, and White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army."

When not making music, James has been known to make her own grocery bags made from upcycled T-shirts, refinishes furniture, and also draws and paints. In addition, she founded a non-profit called Youth Music San Diego to help mentor young musicians.

As of 2019, Vanja James was going by her first name only.

Discography

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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