James had no interest in pursuing the life of a recording artist until God spoke clearly at the 2019 Gospel Music Association's Immerse Songwriting Conference. It was there he heard the Spirit say, "James, you are supposed to sing these songs that you have been writing.” Kelso released his first single in 2019 and a five-song EP in 2020 in response to that calling.
James' music is heavily influenced by country, pop, and CCM—as well as his 20 years as a worship leader—but his eclectic taste in music brings influence from many other genres. His music is most notably defined by meaningful lyrics wrapped in strong melodic hooks. A storyteller at heart, each song takes the listener on a journey, often through pain and struggle, to the hope of the gospel.
James was named the 2015 AOCS Songwriter of the Year, the SongDoor International Songwriting Contest's 2020 Grand Award Winner, and the Christian Category winner for the 2021 Great American Song Contest. While James is not defined by these awards, but rather by his identity in Christ, each award has led to open doors. Though he does not know where these doors will ultimately lead, James is committed to walking through each one as he pursues God’s clear calling on his life.
James is a happily married father of four boys. As a foster family who feels called to adopt a daughter, he, his wife, and their sons, are looking forward to the day that God reveals the daughter who He has called to become a part of their family.