If you love music that’s sweet, poignant and melancholy, you need to listen to James Blake. His music blends dubstep, R&B and even soul elements, which could melt the hardest heart. James was born on the 26th of September 1988 with the full name James Blake Litherland. His father, also called James, is a musician and founded the band Colosseum.
Following in his father’s footsteps, James became interested in music when he was just a young boy. He received classical piano lessons, and it was clear he had a lot of natural ability. He continued to study music throughout his time at primary and secondary school. He teamed up with friends to host a series of “Bass Society” music nights where popular UK dubstep artists Benga, Distance and Skream performed.
It seems music runs in James’s blood. James’ mother’s name is not known, so there’s no way of knowing if she was musically inclined. James is an only child.
When he left school, James chose to pursue his passion and received a Popular Music degree from Goldsmiths, University of London. He composed music all through his time at university and released his first EP, Air & Lack Thereof, in 2009. It caught the attention of a Radio 1 DJ, Giles Peterson, who played it often and invited James to appear on his show.
In his second year at university, he created his second EP called Klavierwerke and even submitted it for a composition assignment. His professor scored it very highly. His third EP, CMYK, was another hit with Radio 1, and DJ Nick Grimshaw chose it as his record of the week.
James released his first album, which was simply called James Blake, in 2011. It was critically acclaimed and went to number one in the UK charts and number one in the US Heatseeker charts. He was nominated for the Critics Choice award at the BRITs and the BBC Sound of 2011 Awards. He came second in each, which is quite an achievement for an artist who had only just released his first album. James’ second album Overgrown was released in 2013 and won a Mercury award, and went to number one in the US and Australia.
James continued to write music and has released three more albums; The Colour In Anything, Assume Form and Friends That Break Your Heart. He’s collaborated with some of the biggest names in modern music, such as Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. He also won more prestigious awards, including an Ivor Novello in 2014, a Grammy in 2019, and Best Alternative Video in the UK Video Music Awards in 2021.
Not all James’ decisions have been good ones, though. He explained that he was asked if a beat from one of his songs could be used in the Drake song 0 to 100 / The Catch Up. He said no but later questioned his publisher about how much money he had turned down with this decision. We don’t know the answer, but James apparently spat his drink all over the table when he found out!
However, this decision doesn’t appear to have hurt James too much financially; his net worth is estimated at $8 million. James is currently touring the UK and will later head to the Netherlands, Spain and The USA. Despite a busy touring, writing, and recording schedule, James has made time for a personal life.
He previously dated Theresa Wayman from the American indie rock band Warpaint. Since 2015 he has been in a relationship with UK actress Jameela Jamil, one of the stars of Netflix’s hit The Good Place. They are not married yet, and neither of them has children. If you want to see more from this talented musician you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Facebook page.