Spending his formative years in Morocco with his Norwegian-American father and his African-American mother before moving to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Matthew fell in love with music as a young boy. Introduced by his supportive musician father to the songwriting of The Beatles, the stage presence and undeniable showmanship of James Brown and the epic artistry of Michael Jackson, Matthew didn’t just absorb these influences but symbiotically ingested them.
With a natural affinity at age six, Matthew quickly learned piano, and drums, while also excelling at singing, melody, and poetry. What he also learned from an early age was the cruelty of small-minded ignorance and the devastating effects of bullying which has been exacerbated in the millennial age of social atrocity.
As a young teen, Matthew battled with insecurities as he struggled with his identity amidst conservative Midwestern ideology and when finally coming to terms with his sexuality, he found that for as far as the world has progressed, it’s still in the dark ages when it comes to open-hearted acceptance of a proud Moroccan gay man.
The words and hatred were, at times, crushingly unbearable, but with an inner resolve that has allowed him to persevere against all odds, he plucked the daggers one by one from his resilient armor and triumphantly cast them aside. No one, and no thing would derail this ride. The torment inflicted by immature inhumanity would only make him stronger. He would not be ashamed of his heritage, his sexuality, or his beliefs.
With moral support from his parents, friends, and loved ones, and a conviction of the enduring power to affect change with evocative melodies and empowering lyrics, he purposefully transformed into the confident young man that he is today, one who wants to make the world a better place. One of the swords that helped him feel mighty was the song “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson. With its powerful refrain, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer, If you wanna make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself and then make a change,” he tapped into a strength that was there all along, it just needed to be found.
Graduating from the McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul in 2014, Matthew enjoyed his first taste of success with the six-piece ensemble, The Common Cassettes, who toured throughout the U.S. with marquee performances in Seattle, Austin, and Rochester, New York.
This notoriety landed him at Minneapolis’ largest independent label, Pledge Empire Records, with whom he found himself producing, ghostwriting, composing and featuring on various songs for groundbreaking Hip-Hop/Rap artists such as Ced Linus, Sti-Lo Reel, Prince Carlton and Louis P.
During this prolific time, he was nominated «Best RnB Artist of the Year» by the Twin Cities Urban Music Awards while also scoring compositions for «Worldwide Star Search» in Hollywood, performing with 3x Grammy-Award winners, Jamaica Bennett, and Pippi Ardennia, and collaborating with former NFL Defensive Linemen, Esera Tuaolo for «Hate in Any Form is Wrong», an event to foster diversity in sports and anti-bullying among youth.
In the fall of 2016, Matthew moved to Los Angeles to further his song craft while also pursuing modelling, acting, and LGBTQ advocacy with organisations such as OutFront Minnesota and The LGBT Center in Los Angeles, which is the world’s largest provider of programs and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Busy writing music for his for future releases, Matthew’s has just announced his anthemic new single, «Right Now».
«If This Song Saves One Life, Then All Of This Was Worth It»
«Right Now», is a suicide awareness anthem that is focused on raising such awareness globally but more specifically towards the LGBTQ+ community.
«Right Now» will be added this Sunday on the LGBTQ Music Chart as a newcomer (you can vote this week chart here).
Matthew James «Right Now» is not like other pop tunes out there, you’ll right away spot this is a heart felt song, with a topic close to Matthew James’s heart. Even the song has a very important topic, it’s very catchy as well. After hearing this tune, I can’t wait to the next one. As a Norwegian, my heart just fell in love with the talented Matthew James when I discovered that he has partly Norwegian blood running through his veins. So thank you Matthew James for letting me enjoy your amazing song!