James was born in Seco, a small historical coal mining town in eastern Kentucky. His family moved to Detroit when he was five years old. He grew up in Detroit, graduating from Cass Technical High School and receiving his Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University. James received a Master of Arts degree in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo Ontario, Canada. He then spent two years enrolled in the Medical School at Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario where he was involved in research projects involving physically handicapped children.
Since then James has worked in the field of mental health as a therapist and administrator in nine states for over thirty five years. He has presented at a number of national conferences and he has been nominated for a variety of state and regional awards for innovative clinical programming.
James is an avid fan of traditional mountain music and he has taught and performed on both the mountain dulcimer and the autoharp at a variety of traditional music and folk festivals across the country. For six years he was the Dobro player in the Illiana Foxfire Bluegrass Band in the Chicago area.
Over the past twenty years, James has also devoted some of his energy to camping, photography, and to competitive practical handgun shooting. James met his wife Carol Anne when she was working as a nurse at a hospital in Paris, Tennessee. They currently reside in Corinth Mississippi with their Shetland Sheepdog, Seamus. They have three grown daughters.