James LaBrie Biography
Last updated: 07/07/2011 12:00:00 PM
Kevin James Labrie was born on May 5, 1963 in Penetanguishene, a town in Ontario, Canada. James' parents say that when he was three years old, he would walk around the house singing whatever songs were on the radio. Although he didn't get the words right, he could sing the melodies. Inspired by his father, James started singing and playing drums at age 5: "My parents say I was tapping on everything so if they didn't get me a drum set, I'd ruin the house!" When he was six years old, he was very intent on replicating different vocal styles and techniques. It was obvious that his voice was very mature for a six year old. When James was in elementary school, his teacher put him in singing class to further his training. Meanwhile, his father, uncle, and brothers were in a barber shop quartet, which James was made a part of.
Yet James' real love was rock music which he pursued by his early teens. By fourteen, James was singing and playing drums in several bands. However, James knew that drums were secondary to his true passion, singing. At eighteen, James moved to Toronto, Canada.
At age 21, he began vocal training with the renowned vocal coach Rosemary Patricia Burns. After working with several Canadian bands, James became the vocalist for Winter Rose, which almost signed with Atlantic Records. Then Pierre Paradis, who managed the band Voi Vod, approached James regarding a solo project with Aquarius Records. He also told James about a New York based band called Dream Theater who were looking for a vocalist. The rest, as they say, is history.
James' musical tastes are quite varied as he names Metallica, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Journey and Judas Priest as well as classical composers Mozart, Vivaldi and Beethoven as favorites. Influential vocalists include Steve Perry (formerly of Journey), Freddie Mercury, Sting, Paul Rodgers and Nat King Cole. James continues to practice with Ms. Burns and encourages other vocalists to pursue formal training.
Throughout his musical career, James has become one of the most well-respected and admired vocalists in progressive rock. As the voice of Dream Theater and guest performer on numerous side projects, James has helped to define the sound of progressive music for the next millenium. His incredible range and distinctive, intense vocal performances have earned him accolades from fans and critics alike.
In addition to Dream Theater's numerous studio and live releases (Images & Words, Live at the Marquee, Awake, A Change of Seasons, Falling Into Infinity, Once in a LIVEtime, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory, Live Scenes From New York, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Train of Thought, Live At Budokan, and Octavarium), James has also appeared on releases by Fates Warning and Shadow Gallery, Trent Gardner's Explorer's Club and Leonardo the Absolute Man, the first Frameshift album (Unweaving the Rainbow), Ayreon's The Human Equation, as well as tribute albums to Rush, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Queen. In 1999, James completed and released the first MullMuzzler cd, Keep it to Yourself to much critical acclaim. The followup, James LaBrie's MullMuzzler 2, was released on September 11th, 2001. In 2005, James dropped the MullMuzzler moniker and released Elements of Persuasion, the third and arguably greatest of his solo efforts. A fourth solo album is already in the works so stay tuned.
When not on the road, James enjoys camping, downhill skiing and reading. His favorite authors include Anne Rice, Dee Brown, Robert Utley and Forest Carter. James currently lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Karen, daughter Chloe, and son Chance Abraham.