James Williams

Lead Section Leader

James is a longtime barbershopper, and music and barbershop run in his family. His grandfather sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was president of the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus, in which James’s mom and dad both performed. James grew up in the Portland area, started piano lessons at the age of three, has played trumpet in marching band through high school and now in college, and has sung with various school and community choruses.

James became a barbershopper at the tender age of twelve when he joined the Tualatin Valley Harmony Masters. His dad Karl was a member, and James asked him one day what it was he did on Tuesday nights. When Karl explained, James asked if he could come give it a try himself. He did, and his brother Tommy later followed suit.

James started out at Tenor, then switched to Lead a couple years later. When he later switched chapters to join Bridge Town Sound, he introduced himself as a bass and sang that part for a while. He’d never been interested in Bari, which he thought sounded weird. But a few years of barbershop evidently warped his mind enough that when he started listening to the part more closely he decided it was pretty cool after all. That’s what he’s sung ever since. He even sang in a quartet called “Top Spin” with Karl and Tommy and a family friend, winning the Division IV novice quartet award in 2005.

In between high school and college, James did his two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) in Houston. At BYU he’s a participant in the Barbershop Harmony Club, a.k.a. Mountain West Voices, which is led by some members of the Northwest Vocal Project and directed by NVP’s Joel Gillespie, lead of the 2001 International Collegiate Quartet Champs, Reprise. He’s also participated in Evergreen District Harmony Explosion Camp every year for almost a decade, in more recent years as student staff. He’ll continue that tradition this summer, which will entail less time away from his internship than it would have if he’d competed with NVP at International in Portland.

In addition to singing, James is a Frisbee enthusiast and likes to play Ultimate Frisbee and Frisbee golf. Corina, by the way, also is a singer and is singing this summer with our sister chorus, a cappella joy.

At Microsoft, James is working at “DevDiv” (Developer Division) on performance measuring tools. His hope is that the end result of this will be that he’ll increase the already considerable proportion of NWS that is employed by Microsoft. So if you don’t already know James, be sure to get to know him while we’ve got him this summer. We’ll hope to be able to welcome him back yet again early in 2013.