Los Altos native, musician and golfer Kelley James represented his hometown at last month’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament.
Now based in Los Angeles, the singer, rapper and songwriter partnered with Korean golfer Si-Woo Kim in the annual event.
“It’s a really awesome game,” James said of golf. “I can play against anybody in the world in a fun game, and we can play as complete equals.”
The 2002 graduate of St. Francis High School has more experience playing music than he does golf. James said has performed nearly 1,700 shows in his career, which includes playing private shows for companies such as Honda and Red Bull, and in front of large crowds at Red Rocks in Colorado.
James started playing guitar at age 12 and joined a band in high school. But it wasn’t until he attended USC that he realized music could be a feasible career.
“I was able to start playing shows throughout college in LA and at different colleges and universities on the West Coast … playing private shows at sorority houses and fraternity houses on the weekends,” he said.
He recalled creating a fake agent – Michael Gallavin – to book himself gigs after he graduated from USC.
James described his music as a mix of traditional rock – along the lines of Dave Matthews Band and the Beatles – and 1990s grunge. He has released several albums and singles since 2007. More recently, he’s experimented with freestyle rap.
“I write all my own songs, but I don’t really release a lot of music anymore,” he said. “The driver of the business is the freestyle rap that I do on stage.”
He attributes much of his success to growing up in the Bay Area, because it’s a place where “you were encouraged to be smart and encouraged to be worldly.”
The Bay Area is also home to much of the world’s technology, which James said gives musicians “an equal and fair playing field against some of the biggest artists in the world.”
James has learned to pivot as a musician and keep his options open.
“You have to focus on what you enjoy doing,” he said. “You have to put in ridiculous hours pursuing that thing with a very passionate, intentional focus and drive.”
For more information on James, visit kelleyjames.com.