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James Fauntleroy

James Fauntleroy is a Grammy-winning songwriter and producer who has worked with some of the biggest names in R&B and pop, as well as pursuing a solo career. His work fuses R&B-influenced melodic structures with subtly insistent hip-hop beats, creating musical backdrops that work well for both rappers and singers, and he's a collaborator of choice for stars such as Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, and many more. While Fauntleroy has enjoyed impressive success behind the scenes, he stepped forward as a recording artist with 2023's NOVA, a jazz-based collaboration with Terrace Martin, and he helped celebrate the holiday season in a hip way on 2023's The Warmest Winter Ever. Born in Inglewood, California, on May 16, 1984, Fauntleroy's childhood ambition was to become an artist, but when health issues gave him problems with his hands for several years, he took up singing in school and at church, and switched his goal to music. He joined a gospel group when he was 15 and later landed a gig singing with 1500 or Nothin', a cooperative of musicians, singers, producers, and songwriters who worked with a number of major acts. When Fauntleroy was asked if he knew how to write songs, he bluffed and said yes, and after being given some beats to work with, he discovered he could pull it off. One of his first songs was placed with Teddy Riley, and he was on his way. Fauntleroy signed a songwriting deal with Universal Music, and after writing five songs for Chris Brown's album Exclusive in 2007, he scored his first hit in 2008, when Jordin Sparks (with guest vocals from Brown) scaled the charts with his song "No Air." An even bigger breakthrough came when he was approached to write material for Rihanna, and ended up with co-writing credit on six songs for her smash 2009 release Rated R. (He would also help write four tunes on her 2016 album Anti.) Along with his success as a writer, Fauntleroy continued to gain notice for his vocal skills, and in 2011 he added a guest vocal to Frank Ocean's "American Wedding." Over the next several years, he lent his voice to tracks by Drake, Kanye West, Travis Scott, Nipsey Hussle, Vince Staples, and A$AP Rocky, among many others. Fauntleroy co-wrote all ten tracks on Justin Timberlake's 2013 LP The 20/20 Experience, as well as returning for the companion release, The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2. One of the tracks from The 20/20 Experience, "Pusher Love Girl," earned Fauntleroy a Grammy for Best R&B Song. He also contributed to two songs on Timberlake's 2018 release Man of the Woods. Fauntleroy was brought in to write for Bruno Mars' 2016 project 24K Magic, penning seven out of nine songs. The album won the Grammy for Album of the Year, while the song "That's What I Like" took home the trophies for Song of the Year and Best R&B Song. As a performer, Fauntleroy first made his mark as a member of the hip-hop collective Cocaine 80s, singing lead on four EPs they recorded between 2011 and 2013. His first solo EP, a digital release titled String Theory Acoustic, appeared in 2014, followed by 2016's Warmest Winter II and 2017's DOJO. In 2023, he joined Terrace Martin in the studio for a collaborative project, a jazz-oriented six-song EP titled NOVA. Fauntleroy had another solo project ready for his fans by year's end, a Christmas-themed mixtape titled The Warmest Winter Ever.
© Mark Deming /TiVo


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