Coby James has always loved music. From a young age, he enjoyed composing songs in his bedroom, and it’s still the place he feels the most comfortable today. As a teenager, Coby’s dad bought him some studio software and it fueled his dream to create music that the world would sing to one day.
“I was playing a few shows around town and ended up connecting with a manager from CCM music”, says Coby. “Who would’ve thought singing Christian songs in a bar would end up leading me to Nashville? From there things have fallen into place and I have been so blessed.”
Working in Nashville at the age of 16 was challenging for Coby and his family, but his parents supported his dream. He would travel there every couple of weeks to write songs and connect with people in the industry. He ended up moving there permanently in 2020, right at the pandemic’s start.
“I was fresh off of turning 18 when I moved, and I didn’t know how to do anything,” Coby says. “It was a slow adjustment learning how to do regular life. Then we went into lockdown almost as soon as I got there. I was actually on tour the day everything shut down. It was a crazy time.”
God’s mercies are new every morning
Like many people, Coby believes that lockdown was a blessing in some ways. It allowed him to hone in on what he wanted his music to sound like. In November, he wrote the song ‘Brand New’, which was taken to radio, but he says the extra time in lockdown helped him finish the song.
“Brand New is a happier song,” says Coby. “I struggled to write happy songs at the beginning of my career. But it should be a celebratory thing to talk about Christ and what He’s done for us. Every single day we have a new beginning, and God’s mercies are new every morning—that’s a beautiful sentiment.”
Coby enjoys collaborating when writing songs but believes some personal messages can’t be written with
other people. Generally, he loves a room filled with different creative minds because they’ll think of things that he wouldn’t have. It’s essential to get a fresh perspective in the writing process.
Coby describes his ‘Mixtape’ EP as little love letters to music. “It’s a very intimate EP, and it’s one that I love to play live,” he says. “I’m just so happy that we got to put it out because now there’s a tangible copy people can buy. It seems to resonate with them.”
One of the songs on the EP, ‘Three Years Old,’ is one that Coby wrote by himself. It’s about the arrival of his younger brother, and he says that many people, including his parents, really connect with the message. Fans of the song have told him how much it means to them and reminds them of their own families.
While Coby’s also enjoys music production, his first love is playing live. “I started playing the guitar when I was seven,” he says. “I listened to a lot of John Mayer at that point. My guitar playing is influenced by blues style.”
His song ‘Golden’, is one that Coby credits as the key to unlocking how to write joyful Christian music. It was written during the lockdown and is about the transformational love of God. Coby says that being loved by God is amazing and something to be celebrated.
“I also wanted to write a heaven song about looking forward,” says Coby. That was the inspiration for his track ‘Homesick’. “The day will come when there will be no more tears, no more brokenness, no more pain. I’ve dealt with a lot of pain in my life growing up. I was very sick.”
“I know that’s not what God intended. I just wanted to have a song about hope and that this isn’t our final home,” says Coby. “Our eternal home is yet to come.”