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HelloBeautiful.com’s “Base Level” column features the hottest new artists we’re buzzing about. Before they make it to the summit of superstardom, we spot them at base level–the beginning of their hopeful journey to the top.

Ro James is a well blended fusion of unlikely elements. With his trusty guitar, signature hat and scratchy baritone, the military brat musician evokes an honesty, sexuality and mischief in his music that entices listeners the same way Prince did. As one fourth of the musical conglomerate Jackets (comprised of Luke James, Bridget Kelly and Wynter Gordon) Ro James’ formal musical introduction was his three-part EP Coke, Jack and Cadillacs, which explicitly outlined his musical trials and tribulations as well as his love for the female physique.

HelloBeautiful caught up with the singer/songwriter to talk about his musical inspirations, his biggest fear and what his original career plans were. Between you and me, we’re glad he changed his mind.

Ro James everyone!

Name: Ro James

Hometown: New York. South side Jamaica, Queens. 

Musical Inspirations? Man, my musical inspirations range from Prince to Donnie Hathaway to David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Jodeci, Marvin Gaye. My dad sings and he’s amazing. He’s actually a non-denominational pastor. He definitely instilled in me the emotion and the classic music.

What’s Your Biggest Break Thus Far? I don’t think I’ve had my big break just yet. But its bittersweet. Its 50-50. Because I’ve had the opportunity to share my music, that’s a break because a lot of people don’t have that. But I think the big break that people think of, I haven’t had it yet.

What’s Your Biggest Fear As A New Artist? Actually I’m fearless right now. It’s pretty fearless because I just want to be honest and to be honest is to be fearless because you can’t worry about people judging you or what other people think you’re saying. This is what it is. I think when people see that it’s real and authentic they’ll embrace it. What I am fearful of is a big arena because there’s so many different people and I can’t see everybody’s face. It’s overwhelming. It’s a lot. But I think that’s great because it encourages me to keep going.

When did you know this was what you wanted to do? Growing up in the church, I didn’t sing in the choir. My dad would try to make me sing and I didn’t want to sing. I would shy away from it. I wasn’t sure of my voice. I wanted to be a social worker. Isn’t that crazy.

If you were the lovechild of two musicians–dead or alive–who would they be? Hmm. Prince and Lauryn Hill. I love Prince because he’s an artist. He’s original. He carved his own lane and Lauryn Hill because she’s honest. She’s soulful and she stayed true to her artistry and didn’t let them box her in.

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