Born in Henderson County, North Carolina, James McDowell's music roots run deep. His grandfather James 'Coot' McDowell, who played for the "Southern Mountaineers" and the "Green River Boys" has been a large influence on his music.
James attended homeschool, focusing extra time on music. He began guitar lessons at age 13 and banjo lessons at age 14, from Ken Schoewe. At age 15, James was invited to play with the "Old Time Pickers" by Sam Cox, who continues to mentor James. James has also served as banjo player for the "Mully Holler Gang".
James has participated in competitions, near and far. He has placed 2nd in the RenoFest banjo competition and 6th in the guitar competition.
In addition to playing music, James enjoys spending time with his family. He is also very active in his church, Crab Creek Baptist, where he serves as a leader in the Awana program. James also enjoys hunting, fishing and studying history.