James grew up singing at home, in school, and at church. As an undergraduate at St John’s College, New Mexico, he studied music (among other things) and sang in the chorus. He studied Russian church singing, choral performance, and choral conducting at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, New York, and was employed as a choir director in Orthodox Churches for several years. More recently he attended St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, graduating in 2020. While at St Tikhon’s, he sang the daily services of St Tikhon’s Monastery with the Seminary Choir, and performed regionally with the Seminary’s travelling Mission Choir, under the direction of Benedict Sheehan. James, his wife Alison, and their three children live in rural South Carolina.