#CMchat Exclusive Interview: Brooklyn James

Words. They shape us. They break us. The power a writer wields is unlimited. Brooklyn James puts into words all the feelings, the emotions, that, well, we can’t find words for.

Brief career synopsis: (Please tell our readers about your career/past, present and future plans)

“I’ve been writing books and music now for eight years. Technically longer than eight years, but with a focus and a purpose—and a publisher!—I no longer ‘dabble’ in it. My favorite is mixing the two, writing music that serves as soundtracks to novels, the way I did with my first novel The Boots My Mother Gave Me. Movies have scores; books should too, particularly ebooks, as they are the perfect medium to do so. I am a relatively new wife and mother with an infant and a toddler, which has turned out to be everything I never dreamed of. Given my enjoyment and attachment to my family and my writing, I suppose I’ll spend the next twenty years having a go at finding the balance between both.”

What inspired your new single?

“I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences, but none as profound as being a mama. Conceiving, birthing, nurturing little lives has shown me I am so much more than I ever thought I was. But first I had to ‘lay down my heart‘—ego, control, fear—so I could actually hear its beat ‘(song).’ A harmony that made a pretty cool track we ‘laid down’ in studio, for a bit of a hooky double meaning—’Lay Down My Heart.’ And if I’m being frank, our midwife-assisted home birth with our son got the ball rolling. Such a visceral, extraordinary, powerful experience, talk about surrendering one’s heart…having faith.”

Lay Down My Heart” Video 

What unique components does the song bring to country music?

“Not only inspired by motherhood, the song relates back to a time in my life spent on a writing retreat where I had the great fortune and honor of being ‘blessed at the fire’ by a bonafide ‘Generational Medicine Woman’ from the Yaqui Tribe as part of a ceremonial ‘full moon blessing.’ The chant—’Esheshaway’—in the beginning of our new single, loosely translates to ‘give it up to God, The Great Spirit, one’s spiritual One,’ was introduced to me there. It affected and inspired me then, and continues to do so, and in my interpretation has much to do with laying down one’s heart, releasing all the excess to receive that which is important. Paying homage to that experience, the song has a moving Native American drum beat that I find to be quite unique.”

For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:

“I’m going to date myself here and go Transformers on you here with: more than meets the eye!”

Where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the process?

“It’s human nature to write what we know—what we’ve experienced, what we’ve seen and heard and felt in our bones. Inspiration is all around us, all the time, but more so than that, it’s within us. It’s who we are, where we’ve come from, where we’re going, our hopes, our dreams, our family, our friends, our children. My favorite part about the process, hands down, is the writing. The first line, lyric, word…that makes you think, ‘That’s got potential.’ The first melody, note, lick…that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up a bit. The part where the song can go in any direction, before anyone commits to anything, that’s my fondest part of the process.”

If someone wrote a song about your life, what would be the title?

“People always say ‘…everything I EVER dreamed of.’ I never dreamed of marriage and kids and a family. It just wasn’t my ‘American Dream.’ But now that I have been graced with the greatest man I’ve ever known in my husband and our two beautiful bambinos, I can’t imagine life without them and I can’t believe I never dreamed of them. So my life’s song title would be, ‘Everything I NEVER dreamed of.’

Ten years from now you will be…

“Ha! I’m not falling into that trap. Every time I’ve planned it out, He takes the lead and it’s always a better plan than what I had.”

What advice can you offer to females looking to breakthrough in the country music world?

“Be yourself. There is no one like you, and that’s a really good thing. Everyone appreciates and is attracted to authenticity, specifically country music fans.”

If you could go open up for any artist on tour right now who would it be?

“Oh, wow. Who wouldn’t it be? There are so many. Let’s go with Sturgill Simpson. I could listen to him for days. Could? I have!”

What five artists/songs would I see on your recent playlist?

Sean Hayes—Powerful Stuff

Mumford & Sons—I Will Wait

Amos Lee—Arms Of A Woman

Maren Morris—My Church (my daughter LOVES this song, too!)

Willie Nelson—Red Headed Stranger”

What is your favorite song to belt out at the bar/in the car/ for karaoke?

Aretha Franklin’sI Never Loved A Man.’ There is so much range and attitude and angst and pain and solar-plexus belting in that song. It’s so far removed from my music. I enjoy the unfamiliarity. It’s challenging and tenacious and you better commit to it vocally to pull it off. Besides in what song are the first two lines ever, ‘You’re a no good heartbreaker. You’re a liar and you’re a cheat.’”

What are the five things you can’t live without?




Fitness (health and well-being)


What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

“Hmm… That is ever-changing, depending on the season of life one is in, isn’t it? Currently, I’d say my motto, inspired by motherhood, of course, is, ‘Come from a place of gratitude.’”

What’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing or performing?

“I enjoy working out—weight lifting, running. I’ll dance until my feet are sore. I’m an avid reader, mostly of children’s books these days!, which I find to be surprisingly good and very well-written. More recently, I have become quite adept at cooking, and find the more of it I do, the better I get at it and the more enjoyment I find in it. Juggling motherhood and career, a favorite thing could be something so minuscule as finishing a cup of coffee before it’s cold! To indulge in the biannual date night with the hubs is quite exciting, too! But for the most part, we’re content when we’re together, he and I and the kiddos. It may be a bit cliché, but like most everyone else, my most favorite thing to do in all the world is spend time with my family.”

More about Brooklyn James.

Brooklyn James is an author/singer/songwriter inspired by life in the Live Music Capital of Austin, Texas. Her first novel, “The Boots My Mother Gave Me,” has an original music soundtrack and was chosen as a Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. This book has ranked in Kindle’s Top 100 Coming of Age and Women’s Fiction.

When she is not writing books, she can be found playing live music around Austin as part of an acoustic duo. Brooklyn has been in a Weezer video, met Harry Connick Jr. as an extra on the set of When Angels Sing, appeared in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood for all of a nanosecond, and she was Mira Sorvino’s stand-in on Jerry Bruckheimer’s Trooper pilot for TNT. She most enjoys being a wife and mother, reading, dancing, working out, and a good glass of kombucha.

Brooklyn holds an M.A. in Communication and a B.S. in both Nursing and Animal Science. Her nursing career has seen specialties in the areas of Intensive Care and Postpartum. She serves as a Guest Speaker with a focus on awareness and prevention of Domestic Violence and Suicide.

“Brooklyn James’ soundtrack to her novel The Boots My Mother Gave Me does more than give a clever feminist twist to the title. Her songs serve as chapters themselves, underlining James’ deft ability as a storyteller and songwriter.”-Margaret Moser, The Austin Chronicle

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Author: Donna Block

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