By Margie M. Palmer
Mission Valley-based singer releases catchy holiday hit
When Mission Valley resident DC James decided to debut his music, he knew he’d have to go big or go home.
His newly released song, “Christmas on our Own,” not only flips the script of traditional holiday music – it also gives the catchiness of Mariah Carey’s popular hit “All I Want for Christmas is You” a solid run for its money.
“When most artists release a pop or pop-country debut they’ll release a breakup song or a party song, but not me,” James said, laughing. “I’m going to compete with Mariah because life isn’t hard enough.”
The Toronto native admits that while acting and writing music has been a lifelong passion, the vulnerability of putting his own stuff out to the world is new.
“I’d been a songwriter and performer for most of my life, but I always sang other people’s songs,” he said. “When I was auditioning for Broadway or musical theater, I’d get far, but I think the problem was the believability factor because I couldn’t connect with the story. I realized very quickly that my dream was misguided.”
James, who celebrated his 33rd birthday earlier this month, made a pact with himself on the day he turned 32: he would release his own music within a year.
“Christmas on our Own” was born in mid-December 2016 – a few weeks after that decision was made.
At the time he penned the lyrics, James and his husband had recently moved from Canada to San Diego. James wanted to be closer to Los Angeles to pursue his career, so the couple was debating long distance. When an opportunity for his husband to finish up schooling in San Diego arose, they pounced.
Although there was zero chance they’d head back to the cold to spend Christmas with their families, there was the unmistakable appeal of spending the holidays on their own.
“It took me about two days to write it, and with the time I spent producing it, it took about a week in total,” he said. “I came up with the hook, or the catchiest part of the song, and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I couldn’t afford a gift for my husband, so I got him a song.”
The reception from his husband, and his family, was far beyond what he expected.
“Everyone was telling me [the song] was so much better than they thought it would be,” he continued. “People didn’t know I was starting to take songwriting seriously.”
After that, James pressed pause and left it be. While he felt the song would be great to pitch to production studios for use in television or holiday movies, he admittedly missed those deadlines.
Toward the end of summer 2017, he realized his deadline for releasing music was fast approaching.
“I had just finished doing a show with the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus (SDGMC) and the next day, I was lying by the pool and realized the next show would be the holiday show,” he said. “I thought this would be a great platform to share my music because the song is cute, relatable and catchy.”
SDGMC Artistic Director, RC Haus, agreed.
“The moment I heard his song, I knew I had to include it in our program,” Haus said. “With all the traditional holiday music we do, it is refreshing to have a new, pop-styled catchy holiday song. Many of the great holiday songs we all know and love were written by people far away, and frankly, long gone.
“But here is a great new song written by someone who lives right in our city. I wouldn’t be surprised if some major artist picks this song up and records it in the future.”
With the 100-strong SDGMC as backup, James will showcase “Christmas on our Own” as part of the chorus’ annual holiday show, “Jingle” on Dec. 9 and 10. The track was also released on iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services in early November.
“I finally decided it was time,” he said. “Getting people to hear your music is the hardest part, but 100 percent of people who hear it say they love it. They’ve told me this is a great song that makes them feel good when they listen to it.
“I guess what I hope people have as their greatest takeaway, is that I want them to enjoy it and download it. I hope people love the holiday song and that they hang on to see what’s next.”
James will perform as part of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus in “Jingle,” at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10 at the historic Balboa Theatre, located at 868 Fourth Ave., Downtown. For tickets, visit sdgmc.org.
—Margie M. Palmer is a freelance writer who has been racking up bylines for over a decade. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.