Ro James Talks Grammy Nod + Learned Lessons [Interview]

Grammy Week: Ro James Talks Grammy Nod, Overcoming Obstacles + Learned Lessons [Interview]

Photo of Ro James taken by Sarah McColgan for Billboard.

Photo of Ro James taken by Sarah McColgan for Billboard.

America, the secret is out and for good reason, as everyone from sea to shining sea should know about the talented Ro James.

This first-time Grammy nominated performer has taken his choir pew grooves, mixed them with a bit of Bad Boy Bobby Brown vibes and damn near given grown folks a reason to throw red light special parties again. For those unfamiliar, Ro James is a forward-thinking, confident artist whose debut album, Eldorado, entered at no. 3 on the Billboard R&B charts.

Fueled by what motivates us all: love, lust, family and more — Ro James marches to the sound of his own drum, which has endeared the RCA signee to a nation of fans. Through making his own playbook, Ro has given full-fledge eargasms to music lovers who are looking for something different than the norm. It is with that originality that The Recording Academy has gravitated to the Germany-born crooner, nominating him for “Best R&B Performance”.

This Army brat has gone gold and proves that 21st century R&B is here to stay + change the game. Right when the nominees were listed, we reached out to Ro to get his thoughts on being nominated, what his speech would be if he wins and developing as an artist to get to this point. We were excited to get these reactions from Ro James, which you can check out in our exclusive interview below. Enjoy!

Okayplayer: Where were you at when you heard the news that you were nominated for a Grammy Award?

Ro James: I was on tour, man. We had just arrived to the next city and I was getting in bed to sleep. My phone kept vibrating for like 10 minutes straight at around 7 a.m. Phone calls and all that… I finally got up and picked it up. It was one of my friends and she was just like, “Congrats on your nomination.” The feeling of hearing that and knowing that I was among those I admired coming up, man, was indescribable.

OKP: Most Grammy nominees almost immediately begin working on a speech for in case they win. Have you begun such a process? If so, have you rehearsed or practiced the speech in any way?

RJ: Nah, I am pretty good with articulating how I feel right at that moment. A wordsmith [laughs]. I think I’m just gonna go up there and say what’s on my heart. I know whom I am thankful for and who has helped me on this path to get to where I am now.

OKP: What do you think about the other nominees you’re competing against in the Best R&B Performance category?

RJ: I love all of them. I am cool with BJ The Chicago Kid and I’m proud of his journey. I know what he has gone through to get to where he is. SolangeRihanna… I think that it is an honor to be nominated amongst these other nominees.

OKP: Outside of your own music — what did you play on your phone or speakers in the year that was 2016?

RJ: Anderson .Paak, BJ The Chicago Kid, Solange, Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid CudiMigosPrinceTravis ScottD’Angelo were just a few that I played wherever I was at.

OKP: What was the first song that you ever wrote entitled? Can you talk about what it has come to symbolize since you’ve entered into the professional life?

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