James Bonamy at Coyote's

By Wanda Gregory

Epic recording artist James Bonamy came to Coyote's nightclub for a WAMZ free show on October 24. LMN writer Wanda Gregory caught up with him for an interview.

James Bonamy grew up in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he lived with his parents and an older brother. He began playing guitar at 12 and began singing at the age of 18.

Bonamy's first influence was his father, who loved the honky-tonk sounds of Charlie Rich, Joe Stampley, Moe Bandy, Bobby Bare and the smooth sounds of Conway Twitty, George Strait and legendary George Jones.

Throughout high school however, his focus was on sports, so there was no time for music. He played football and soccer and ran track. After high school, Bonamy entered the University of Alabama but soon found that his heart was not in the books. He preferred staying home and playing his guitar or writing songs. Sharing an apartment off-campus with his brother gave him the opportunity to hone his craft.

After college Bonamy returned to Orlando to play with a band at a country nightclub. He also auditioned for the Opryland USA theme park. Even though it was only a guaranteed three months stint, James accepted the job, thinking that this would put him on stage so that the record executives in Nashville could see him.

That didn't happen.

The Opryland gig lasted for eighteen months, however. Because he wanted to spend more time writing songs and meeting more people, he quit the theme park and began work as a carpenter.

It was fall '93 when Bonamy first appeared on The Nashville Network's "Nashville Now" and the Hallmark Direction Co. executives who are now his managers noticed him. In May '94, they took Bonamy to Epic Record producer Doug Johnson, who signed him up. Signing Bonamy to the Epic label was a good move - his debut album, What Do I Live For, resulted in his first release, "Dog On A Toolbox," his second release, "She's Got a Mind Of Her Own," and his first number-one single, an emotional ballad called "I Don't Think I Will." The next single to be released is also a ballad and will be his fourth from the first album.