There is still a lot to be said about paying your dues. There is a certain vitality, energetic self confidence, and lusty exuberance that must be presented in a genuine performance. Propelled by a life firmly rooted in the blues, James Van Buren combined a lifetime of experiences and rolled them into songs that reflect his warm personal style and the dynamic nature of his musical career, which spanned more than five decades.
Born in Arrow Rock, Missouri in 1935, Van Buren has been involved in music since 1956 when he formed the “Blues Kings” to play the type of music that he loved listening to as a child, the blues. Originally a drummer, he spent many years on the road with such legends as T. Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner, Lou Rawls and later participated in group and duet performances with talents such as Irene Reid, Good Rockin’ Brown, Pat Metheny and John Harris.
Van Buren decided to make Denver his home, and there started to make his presence known as a blues and jazz singer. He has a natural sense of swing, and a dynamic stage personality. Always supported by the finest players in the Denver area, and visiting musicians alike, he has garnered quite a reputation in the Mile High City.
Jazz great Benny Golson, a Van Buren colleague, has stated, “His voice reaches back a hundred years and yet maintains the freshness of today. After listening to him it becomes quite obvious that he sings with his heart as well.” As Phil Upchurch put it, “James is as original in his song as Joe Williams or Billie Holiday. The other thing I like about his style is that you can hear him smiling”.