Spencer Music and Artist Development


James Ross Spencer

James Ross Spencer is an acclaimed concert pianist, lyric baritone, recording artist, musicologist-author, composer-arranger, and a noted music coach, artist developer and agent currently residing in Belmont Shore, California. 

James was born the oldest of six siblings to a noted musical family on February 13.  His great-great maternal grandfather, Canuto Berea Rodriguez was not only the mayor of La Caruna, Spain, but a noteworthy Galician composer, concert pianist, conductor and the founder of the National Galician Folk Institute of Music. James' father, Chuck Spencer is a Country-Western and bluegrass singer and guitarist that has performed throughout the US, and has performed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Dolores Berea Spencer, James' mother is a soubrette coloratura soprano who has performed operatic roles on the New York stage, and as a soloist throughout the US. James began his musical studies at age 4 studying piano, violin, theory and voice.

After giving his first classical piano recital at age 6, James began formal music studies with his mother and father.  He then went on to study piano with concert artist Adrienne Iagjian, a USC graduate, and former student of the composer Aram Khachaturian. At age 12 James began competing in regional, state and international piano competitions.  He was a piano and violin soloist for the Musical Teachers Association of California's Musical Encounters-Young Artist Series.  James gave his first symphony debut at age 14 performing George Gershwin's Rhapsody and Blue with members of the Pacific Symphony. Childhood Honors and Awards include: Chapman University Junior Piano Concerto Competition (1st Place); California State Bach Festival (soloist); Joanna Hodges' International Piano Competition (competitor, solo artist, accompanist); Academic Decathlon Performing Arts Nationals (1st Place); KCET Television: Debut (child prodigies: performer and interviewed).

James attended Edison High School in Huntington Beach, California. During his high school years, James sang as a lyric bass-baritone with his high school madrigals and concert choir, was assistant staff accompanist, and also a student teacher-assistant conductor to Richard Otey. While in high school, James began performing jazz-pop piano and also performed cabaret and night club with Melissa Fahn (Glinda in Wicked on Broadway).  James performed ragtime and stride at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California in addition to performing regularly at local yacht clubs, resorts and restaurants. James joined the New Romantics band In Common Hours as keyboardist and back vocalist and performed with the band throughout Southern California.  His introduction to the music industry was a fortunate turn of events allowing him to connect and collaborate with leading figures in the LA music industry. James was the founder of the Gothic Wave band 13th Hour, and the smooth jazz ensemble Breezin'. 

While in high school, James also began teaching private students in piano, voice, acting, violin, and music theory-composition. His work as a church music director allowed him ample opportunity to conduct, compose, arrange and perfect his craft as a pianist, organist, harpsichordist, vocalist and violinist. 

While in high school and college, James also appeared in numerous local Southern California musical theatre productions as well as US touring productions. Credits include: Kids of the Kingdom (Disneyland), Wolf in Into The Woods, Bobby in Company, Claude in Hair, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Billy Flynn in Chicago, M. C. in Cabaret, Chuck in Promises-Promises, Young Man in Putting It Together, Chip in On The Town and Riff and Bernardo in West Side Story. 

James has worked as singer and pianists with notable celebrities including: Toni Tennille, Ann Jilian, Carol Burnett, Nel Carter, Ann Miller, and Carol Channing. 

James received several degrees in his career. Commencing with an Associate of Arts Degree in music from Orange Coast College (1988)James went on to receive a performance diploma in early music performance (harpsichord) from Royal Academy of Music (Victoria, B. C.) (1989)Mr. Spencer graduated with a Bachelor of Music (1992) and then a Master of Music and the keyboard areas highest honors from California State University Fullerton (1995).  After completed his MM degree, James completed a California credential for high school teaching in music and acting from National University (1996).  James also holds a Clinical Hypnotherapy/Music Therapy and Nutritionist Diplomas from Hypnosis Motivation Institute graduating in 2006. He is a US representative music/acting coach for London College of Music's prestigious grade exams, performance awards and degrees with a Fellowship in Musicology.  

James has studied keyboard with leaders in the field including: Adrienne Iagjian (USC), Joanna Hodges (CSULB), Dr. Robert Watson (CSUF), Dr. Lucinda Carver (CSUF, USC), Dr. Burton Karson (CSUF), Dr. Malcolm Hamilton (USC) and Dr. Rita Fussek (CSUF). Master class credits include: Andreij Dutkiewicz (Warsaw Conservatory), Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Oscar Peterson. 

Mr. Spencer has studied voice with leaders in the field of musical theatre, pop-jazz and classical repertoire including: Dolores Berea Spencer, Su Harmon (CSUF), Jane Paul (CSUF), Dr. Dennis Parnell (CSUF),Dr. Michael Kurkjian (CSUF)  and Dr. Mark Goodrich (CSUF). 

After graduation James Spencer was on faculty as staff accompanist and vocal coach at California State University, Fullerton. From 1999-2010, James was faculty instructor for Coastline Community College and Orange Coast College where he taught applied lessons in keyboard, voice and strings as well as classics in musicology, music theory/composition, music therapy, musical theatre/opera, chamber music, music therapy, music industry and music appreciation for senior citizens and classic cinema. 

James is the founder of Spencer Music and Artist Development which he started in 1985. He currently teaches private lessons and small group classes to students of all ages and levels in the following: piano, digital keyboard, voice, acting, dialects, voiceover, strings, music theory-composition, musicology, music therapy, music industry and breathwork.  His private students perform regularly and are featured artists in local television shows, musical theatre and play house productions and as solo artists. 

As an artist developer, James works with talented pianists, vocalists, composers and actors. For audition requirements please visit the coaching page in this website. 

James is a professor of London College of Music and offers accredited degrees, performance diplomas and grades through private study and examination. 

James is a noted recording artist and he has currently been working on the Piano Classics series: a collection of digital albums of the most beloved classical piano selections recorded in IST (infratonic sound therapy). Piano Classics For Reflection has done well on streaming stations. Valse Romantique was released in 2014. Sonatina was released in 2015. 

Mr. Spencer has also released several jazz piano albums.  Check the music store tab to see what albums are currently available for purchase and immediate digital download. Nightfall was honored as one of the top 10 cocktail jazz albums of 2014 (by Cocktail Nation). James is currently working on a new 25 volume jazz piano series entitled The Cocktail Piano Hour. Blue vol. 1 is currently available and you may purchase your copy by visiting the store links page on this website. Exotica was released in 2017. 

 As a musicologist and published author, Mr. Spencer's research interests are varied: Classical music research interests include: Les Six composers: Francis Poulenc and Darius Milhaud, Berliner cabaret, W. A. Mozart, French Baroque, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Domenico Scarlatti, Hollywood Piano Concerti and film noir scores. 

As a jazz musicologist James has interviewed leaders in the genres of cool jazz and exotica. He is also interested in classical ragtime, stride piano, and acid jazz.

J. R. Spencer's book, Lady Liberty: The Definitive Julie London Handbook has received positive reviews and he has been interviewed for radio shows like Koop Kooper's Cocktail Nation, and Jazz Times for his performance collaborations with artists that had worked with Julie London including: Al Viola (guitarist), Jimmy Rowles (piano), and Bobby Troup (piano/composer).  Lady Liberty is currently available for purchase from Amazon or Createspace. 

J. R. Spencer's book An Historical Study of Kurt Weill's Der Silbersee is the first book to discuss historical events on Kurt Weill and Georg Kaiser's last German musical stage work. The book follows events from it's creation through it's triple premiere and events after WWII.  The book examines attempts to reconstruct the opera, as well as current publications and productions. The book is also available for purchase from Amazon or Createspace.

J. R. Spencer is a practicing vegan and high tea enthusiast. He has created the new book: The Vintage Vegan containing nearly 300 unique recipes for: finger sandwiches, canapes, soups, salads, scones, and desserts with a history of tea and preparation and a look at the emerging vegan team movement.  You may purchase your copy from Amazon or Createspace. 

James new bio Les Baxter, is a 700 page work documented the life of Jim's good friend Les Baxter, the Father of Exotica and Space Age music, and the composer of over 200 film scores. The book contains rare photos, interviews, memoirs, discography and filmography. 

James is also the created of the Ultimate series of cocktail recipes and cocktail music listening guides. Look for Ultimate Martini, Ultimate Margarita and Ultimate Rum Cocktails due out in 2016. 

Mr. Spencer also holds certificate-diplomas from Hypnosis Motivation Institute (2006) in clinical hypnotherapy, plant-based nutrition, sound therapy, and handwriting analysis. His interest in sound therapy lead him to work as a music therapist with senior citizens as well as a breath/yoga coach for singers and instrumentalists with body alignment and pain challenges. James worked with members of Sound Vitality and Tantra of Sound to create IST (Infratonic Sound Therapy). This technology adds undetectable sound waves and frequencies to mp3 digital recordings that help to promote deep relaxation, enhanced memory and balance/coherence between mind, body and emotions. James is the founder of Intuitive Wholeness offering clinical hypnotherapy and Reiki/reflexology session as well as training in EFT. 

For information on private coaching with Mr. Spencer, artist development/agent services or to find out about upcoming albums, books, recitals/tours, speaking engagements and workshops be sure to add your email to his mailing list (welcome page), or you may contact him via email, or phone messages on his contact page. 

J. R. Spencer is also available for web design and information may be found in this website under the web design tab. 




Gothic Night: The Riviera, Long Beach, CA