“Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.” -Unkown
Meet James Burkett: Hazlehurst, Georgia Country Musician Portrait Session
Today, I want to introduce you to a very impressive young man. His name is James Burkett. And you heard about him here first. This post owes its existence to facebook. No joke. As much as everyone (especially me) likes to trash talk facebook, it’s been responsible for some really good things. Don’t tell anybody I said that. Between you and me though, I’m talking to people from my past I thought I would never find again. And I’m keeping up with friends and family like I never could before. Just don’t tell anybody I said anything nice about facebook, m’kay? So what does facebook have to do with this young man? Lots actually. James is my cousin’s son. Which makes him my cousin too, I guess, right? Until this week, I’d never met him. And I haven’t seen my cousin (his mom) all that many times in our lives either. Back before internets and cell phones, the world was a whole lot bigger. And even though as kids we lived less than 50 miles apart, we had few chances to spend time together. And then it seems like once you’re a grown up, things happen at the speed of light and years passed without seeing each other. Or even knowing where to find each other. Along comes facebook. Suddenly we can easily stay in contact and learn about each other again. And I learn that my cousin has sons who are practically men. And I learn she has a son who has a magnificent voice and has recorded a demo album. So I listen to it. And I’m blown away. You may even remember when I posted a link to it on my facebook page. Then, last week, James records a short video of himself performing a song and posts it on facebook. And I happen to see it. Once again, I’m in awe of his beautiful voice. And I realize that I need to do whatever I can to help him. Because I believe he has what it takes to make it. And I know how hard it is to be a young artist trying to find your way. So I send his mom a message right then. I have no spare time in my schedule right now. But it doesn’t matter. Because I know that this is the right thing to do. You need to hear him. I’m going to insist that you hear him. And see him. And learn about him. Not because he’s related to me. Because he’s amazing. So I worked like a maniac to get enough done to leave my studio for a day and then I drove to my hometown. It’s called Hazlehurst, Georgia. Population: 3,787. I packed nearly every camera I own. I ran out of time and didn’t think to pack clothes. Whatever. When I get there, I see my cousin in person for the first time since we were kids. We talk for a while and I remember how much I always liked her. Then I spend the afternoon with James. We drive all over town, talking and looking for spots to stop and make a few photos. While we drive, he tells me about his accident last year. You see, James used to play football. And then he took a hit. A really hard hit. His head was thrown back viciously. His neck was broken. Another millimeter or two and he would have died. Instead, he spent four months in traction, wearing a halo traction device that was literally bolted to his skull. And it was during this time that he recorded his demo. Before I tell you the rest of this story, I really think you should take a moment to check out this video I made for you. Because I can keep telling you about James, but the truth is, James can speak (sing) for himself. This video is the still photos and some video I recorded this week with a song he recorded called “Ole Red.” Just click on that little arrow… Aren’t you blown away? I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly a huge fan of country music, but I love this. When I listen to this, and when I talk to James, it’s hard for me to remember that he’s sixteen. No, that’s not a typo. He’s sixteen. The year that comes after fifteen, but before seventeen. Spending the afternoon with him was an experience that I did not expect. He’s funny. He’s sincere. He’s thoughtful, observant, and gentle. He understands things about life that people much older than him struggle with. And he’s funny as hell, did I mention that? If I thought he had what it takes to succeed before, now I’m absolutely certain. Not only will James succeed; he will prosper. He just needs a chance. This is the part where you come in. Become a fan of his facebook page. If you live in south Georgia, go see him perform. Share the link to his music page and let others know about him. Help him realize his dream. So thanks for letting me share this with you. I hope you think James is amazing too.