Once in a while, a powerhouse voice comes along that’s undeniably made for the big stage. Like Adele or Sam Smith or Arlo Parks, that’s how it feels listening to James Vickery.

Possessed of enthrallingly smoky vocals, there’s a reason Vickery is right at the forefront of the current U.K. R&B scene.

Yet the singer’s success didn’t happen overnight; Vickery’s story is one of persistence and perseverance. After spending his childhood visiting hospital intermittently for ear infections, he was diagnosed with Cholesteatoma, a benign tumour rooted deep in his ear.

Informed that he had just two months to live, Vickery underwent intensive surgery to remove the tumour at the tender age of nine. While the surgery went well, it left him deaf in that ear.

While others perhaps would have crumbled, Vickery managed to turn it into a positive opportunity: working with a vocal coach to learn how to speak louder and properly, they soon realised his powerful singing talent.

Vickery, clearly, has overcome bigger obstacles than your average singer to get where he is now. He’s received support from the likes of Rolling Stone, while last year saw the release of well-received debut album, the aptly-titled Songs That Made Me Feel.

He released his latest single, ‘The Reason’, last month, and it’s a typically heartfelt R&B ballad, laced with meaning. ‘The Reason’ is about that stage with someone where it’s now become more than love, that nothing else matters anymore,” Vickery says about the track.

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Using Eric Clapton’s ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton and Tom Misch’s ‘Movie’ as inspiration, ‘The Reason’ is a silky smooth creation, with Vickery’s voice tenderly floating over Fred Cox’s hazy production.

After the release of ‘The Reason’, we caught up with Vickery as part of our Get To Know series to find out more about his life and music.

James Vickery’s ‘The Reason’ is out now. 

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How did your artist name come about?

Haha I wish I could give you something more interesting to answer with here but it’s literally my government name!

How would you describe your music to your grandma?

Music for the Soul. Think traditional R&B music with a modern flare, something you can listen to with the most important person in your life.

Tell us about a few of your tracks; their titles and what they’re about?

‘The Reason’ is a song I wrote when entering a new relationship that I’ve never experienced before. That sudden realisation that you’ve made me such a better person while being with you, and it’s the reason why my life feels so great now.

‘With U’ is a song I wrote about wanting to give up everything in the U.K.. I felt at the time I’d given everything I could to the R&B scene here and I was seriously considering moving to the U.S.. I was conflicted because I wanted to take a special person with me and I wasn’t prepared to go without them.

What do you love about your hometown?

I actually moved back to my hometown in lockdown and haven’t left. I would probably say being close to my parents is so nice, knowing I can see them whenever I need feels like such a luxury that never gets old.

 Career highlight so far?

I was fortunate enough to go back to the Motherland of South Africa and play Rocking the Daisies Festival at the end of 2019. That show felt very full circle, it was an incredibly proud moment for all of my family as well, and also the biggest show I’ve ever played by some way too.

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Fave non-music hobby?

You’d never think but I’m not a terrible boxer! I took it up for fitness about four years ago but fell in love with it very quickly. I find it extremely therapeutic and the fitness high you get from it is crazy, I highly recommend anyone to take it up.

What’s on your dream rider?

I know everyone says it but I’m not actually that boujee when it comes to riders. If I had to go all-time dream I’d make sure that it had Fiji Water on tap and maybe some of that expensive Manuka Honey – like top shelf of Holland and Barrett – to get the vocals soothed before a show. Other than that I’m easy…

Dream music collaboration?

I say it a lot so hopefully I’m manifesting it but to work in some capacity with Daniel Caesar would be amazing.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’d like to be secure in my personal life (whatever that looks like) and still be playing shows, but to the point where I’m selling them out right as they go on sale. I don’t mind what capacity it is, I just know I’m doing something right if that’s happening.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

It’s funny because I was saying the other day that noone ever invites me to karaoke! I’m not sure why as I would definitely be down, but if I had to pick a song it would probably be Justin Timberlake’s ‘Senõrita’ maybe?

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

You can’t go through life expecting people to treat you how you would treat them, otherwise you’ll forever be deeply unhappy.

What’s one obsession you have that no one would guess after listening to your music?

I’m like a massive nerd. I love video games, but not like Call of Duty, I mean like geeky Dungeons and Dragons and RPG type shit. I love nothing more than spending an evening by myself winding down and doing that. And also I’m a huge football fan, Crystal Palace to be precise.

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