About The Artist
Sonny James is a native of Hackleburg, Alabama. He came from a musical family; his father, mother and sister were all musicians. By the time he was just four years old, he was one of the featured members at their engagements, both on the radio and at personal appearances.
These first performances were usually duets with his sister. It was doing these early performances that the audiences started calling him Sonny. And that name stuck with him throughout his career.
His first full-time radio job was with radio station WAPI in Birmingham, Alabama in 1934. He and his family won an audition or contest against 52 other string bands for a position on the station. Keep in mind, he was only five years old at that time.When he was just seven years old, he took his dad's place on the fiddle. And while still a youngster, he had three Tri-State and two Mid-South fiddling championships under his belt, too.
Sonny had a hit record called "That's Me Without You" and it was ranked third in popularity in the country they wrote. A big band leader by the name of Guy Lombardo must have liked what he heard of that song, for he and his band also did a recording of it.
In the spring of 1948, the family act broke up when Sonny was inducted into the military service. He was discharged from the service in 1952. But while there, he earned the Merit Unit Commendation; Distinguished Unit Citation, Korean Service medal and three campaign stars. After his discharge, Capitol records signed him to a recording contract.
From there he went to Shreveport, Louisiana where he appeared on the famed Louisiana Hayride over KWKH. From there, his career took him to the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area and to WFAA. He had his own show on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00am and was also appearing on the Saturday night show, the "Shindig".
In mid-1955 or so, we find that he was also a part of the "All-Star Country Roadshow" that aired over WBAP in Ft. Worth, Texas at the time. He was said to have his own show on the station, too.
Sonny had a bit of a distinctive vocal style if you listen to his records and singing. He told Cowboy Songs in an interview in 1954, that the 'emotional catch or break' in his voice was "...that grasshopper in my throat."
Sonny as mentioned was a master of the fiddle and also played the guitar. In addition to being a musician, he was also a songwriter and wrote many of his own tunes.
Later, he became a star on the Big D Jamboree and the Red Foley show out of Springfield, Missouri - the Ozark Jubilee.
He enjoyed a long, distinguished, hit-filled recording career with the Capitol records label. Later, he signed with the Columbia label that caused a stir at the time of his signing.
Stay tuned as we add to this singer's biography.
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