A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Dr. Jimmie James, Jr., was born on July 5, 1938, the first of six children born to the late Jimmie and Annie Mae James. He received the Bachelor of Music Education degree from Jackson State University where he was the first tuba major, graduating cum laude in three years; the master of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and a doctorate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he was the first African-American to receive that degree. He was honored by Jackson State by being named to deliver the 1992 Summer Commencement Address.
He was married for 47 years to the late former Carrie Green, a retired educator from Ruleville, Mississippi. They were the parents of one son, Michael Renwick, a graduate of Jackson State University.
James was past Sire Archon of Beta Gamma Boulé of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. During his tenure as Sire Archon, Beta Gamma Boulé received a firstplace National Social Action Award for its creative prostate screening program. He is the author of two books, Organizing and Administering the A.M.E. Church Music Program and Organizing the Church Music Ministry for the 21st Century; co-author of the book Praising God with Instruments; co-author of the book African Methodist Evangelistic Network Manual; and a contributor to the book Methods and Perspectives of Urban Music Education. He served as music editor for the A.M.E. Christian Recorder, has had several articles published on music education and church music in a number of publications, and has served two terms on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Black Sacred Music. He and his brothers, Arthur and Robert James, are co-authors of a book titled The Mississippi Black Bankers and Their Institutions, which was published in 1996. He is a contributor to Songs of Praise, a praise song book and editor of Choir Manual, both published by the Christian Education Department of the A.M.E. Church. James’ original praise song, “Praise Ye The Lord,” is included in Songs of Praise and can be heard on Jackson State University’s Choir CD. The Legendary Voice of the Sonic Boom of the South: Dr. Jimmie James, Jr. His Memoir will be available for purchase in August 2017 from Dorrance Publishing Company.
Long active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, he was the first connectional director of music for the church and was a member of the Commission on Worship and Liturgy, which organized the AMEC Bicentennial Hymnal. He served as Historiographer and Connectional Director of Music Emeritus of the Music and Christian Arts Ministry (formerly CMC). Previously, he served as minister of music at Pearl Street A.M.E. Church, where he also served as member of the Steward Board and a former member of the General Board of the A.M.E. Church.
He has served as Director of the highly successful Annual Church Music Workshop of America sponsored by Jackson State University and the Eighth Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church since its inception in 1977. His article “The Understanding and Practice of Music and the Arts in the A.M.E. Church” was published in The Topical Encyclopedia of Christian Worship in 1992. He has conducted workshops on church music in twenty different states.
A member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, he has served as International Director of Talent Hunt and had been named Omega Man of the Year on the local and district levels. The Mississippi State Talent Hunt was named the Jimmie James, Jr. State Talent Hunt. He is a charter member of the Mississippi State Omega Hall of Fame. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Jackson State University National Alumni Association.
He was honored on the 12th day of October 1993, Acknowledging and Commending Jimmie James, Jr. for his accomplishments and contributions to the Community and the City of Jackson. He was also honored by the Mississippi House of Representatives for 38 years of outstanding service to Jackson State University and to the State of Mississippi. His biography is listed in International Who’s Who in Music, Personalities of the South, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, and several other publications. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Study and Performance of African-America Music and was honored by NASPAAM at its Eighth Biennial Professional Conference in March 2007 in Jackson. He was elected Chair of Region 8 of the National Association of Schools of Music in 2004 and represented Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee on the NASM Board of Directors for four years. He is an experienced evaluator for NASM and has articles published in the proceedings of several meetings. He served two terms as a member of the Jackson Redevelopment Board of Commissioners, having been appointed to this board during Harvey Johnson’s first term as Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.
Those who will cherish his memory are his son, Michael; daughter-inlaw Tanarra; and two grandchildren, Ryan Michelle and Chandler Michael; all of Cypress, Texas; five siblings: Mr. Arthur James, Riverside, CA; Mrs. Elease James Lindsey (Ralph), Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Mr. John Lee James (Edna), Omaha, Nebraska; Dr. Robert Earl James, (Shirley), Savannah, Georgia; Mr. Bobby Ray James, Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, as well as other relatives and friends.