Carrie Underwood Official News

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oklahoma-bred songwriter Brett James pens his Nashville success

Oklahoma-bred Brett James first set out to become a doctor, then a recording artist and now has forged a career as a hitmaking Nashville songwriter.

From left, songwriters Brett James, Hillary Lindsey and Gordie Sampson hold their 2007 Grammy Awards for penning the Carrie Underwood hit “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” which was named best country song. James grew up in Oklahoma City and Cordell and still has family in Oklahoma.

Would-be physician finds healthy career as songwriter

Brett James initially set out to become a doctor like his dad, checking out patients, X rays and medical charts.

But these days, the 41-year-old Oklahoma-bred songwriter spends his days checking out the Billboard charts, watching his compositions climb into the hit range for stars like Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts (which includes Joe Don Rooney of Picher) and Jason Aldean.

“Like a lot of songwriters, I kind of fell backward into it by the failure of my artist career. I always planned on being the guy singing the songs, but of course, now that I’ve been doing it for 17 years, I realize that it’s fun to be the guy behind the scenes. In some ways it’s more fun because I don’t have to write songs just for me,” James said on a recent road trip with his wife and four children from his Nashville, Tenn., home to the Oklahoma City area, where he still has family.

Born Brett James Cornelius in Columbia, Mo., the Grammy winner grew up in Oklahoma City and Cordell. While he was in college at Baylor University, his parents gave him a $90 pawn shop guitar for a Christmas gift.

“As soon as I learned three chords, I just thought it’d be fun to write a song with ‘em,” he said. “It just kind of seemed like the natural thing to do. … I just kind of did it for fun and I certainly never dreamed it would be a job.”

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