Among recent accomplishments, James Nihan's song, This Land is not Our Land, is on the Grammy-nominated CD by Becky Hobbs entitled Nanyehi, Beloved Woman of the Cherokee, which is also a musical play funded by a grant from the Smithsonian Institute. The song is also being used to promote conservation of our natural resources. He lent his narrative voice to a documentary on the Inupiat tribe of Barrow, Alaska and Seeds of Light is the title inclusion of the Unity Church International Songbook. James' anthem, I See the Light in Everything, received the 1st Place People's Choice Award, as a "world peace" song, from the organization Bring Peace Not Pain, supported by many artists including Yusuf (Cat Stevens).

    Massachusetts native James Nihan began playing guitar at age nine and writing songs at fourteen.He was first influenced by the music of Tom Rush, John Prine, Mickey Newberry, Gordon Lightfoot and James Taylor. He began performing at age nineteen, appearing throughout New England at venues including The Folkway, The Pressroom, The Sword In The Stone, The Me & Thee and The Grog. After the blizzard of '78 struck, on his twenty-first birthday, he left New England in search of warmer climes.

    He entertained throughout Texas, Arizona and California from 1979-87. In 1980 his songs were commended by Arizona governor, Bruce Babbitt and Berkeley, California poet, Gene Fowler, presented James with an award for the lyric The Hardest Road, saying it reminded him of old sonnets. James also wrote and produced radio commercials for anglo and hispanic markets in Los Angeles, at the same time performing at rodeos, folk societies and vineyard restaurants in the north.

    James moved to Nashville in 1987 to continue a career in songwriting. He was first published by Ed Bruce and George Strait. Acclaim came with the release of I Can See Arkansas by MCA recording artist Steve Wariner in 1990, and James was voted Songwriter of the Year by the Tennessee Songwriters Association. The following year the song was recorded again and went Top-10 for Anne Murray on Capitol Records. The song has been recorded many times by David Ball (Country), Larry Stephenson (Bluegrass), Ninjaman (Reggae) and others.

    From 1988 until 1991, the major record labels showed a growing interest in James as a potential recording artist, often sending representatives to his venues at the Bluebird Cafe and Douglas Corner Cafe. With the emergence of "Young Country", a time when many artists were being signed in their teens, it seemed prudent to focus more on other creative areas of the music business.

    At this time the legendary songwriter, Harlan Howard (I Fall to Pieces/Busted/Heartaches By The Number), took James under his wing, acting as mentor and publisher until 1996. Harlan likened James lyrical storytelling style to the works of Canadian poet Robert Service. Later publishers would include EMI Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, Almo-Irving Music and REO Global Entertainment.

    He has been a guest on numerous radio and television programs. His songs have been performed on the Grand Ole Opry, Austin City Limits, Nashville Now, The Regis Philbin Show, CMT and more. Appearances include the Kerrville Folk Festival and Mountain Stage. He was featured poet at the Annual Poetry Fair at the College of San Mateo in California.

    He founded the annual New England Songwriters Show held at Nashville's renowned Bluebird Café. Past guest artists include Peter McCann, Barry & Holly Tashian, Dave Mallett, Gary Burr, Cindy Bullens, David Olney, Jon Pousette-Dart, John Scott Sherrill, Jess Leary and Robert Ellis Orrall.

    He taught songwriting to children through the non-profit "Words & Music" program at the Country Music Hall of Fame for two decades, and he brings his songwriting workshops into schools across the country. He has worked with patients in addiction and psychiatric treatment, where poetry and music are used to encourage self-expression and healing.

    In 1995 he released the CD "Mirror Boxes & Diamond Rings". Performing Songwriter magazine said, "Nihan is the lonesome preacher…with a voice thick as molasses, (he) tells the tales of the lover, the loser and the lucky survivor."

    The CD "Rays Of Light" was released in late 2003. The songs are uplifting and from the heart, inspired by Toltec and Native American wisdom. Jean Pumphrey, Literary Director of the Marin Poetry Center said, "In the songs of James Nihan we enter a world of artistry. Here is a poet's voice painting in sound and image a portrait of where love lives." Toltec teacher, don Roberto Paez, said, "A loving tribute to the power of transformation! James Nihan has created a refreshingly honest and moving memoir, a chronicle of awakening to the sweetness of life."

    The CD's "All Creation" (2005) and "Murals" (2008) followed. The heartfelt songs are both meditative and contemplative and incorporate a variety of instruments including sitar, gemshorn, pennywhistle and hammered dulcimer. The West Virginia Register-Herald said, "James' music transcends barriers; it speaks to all of us." "His music brings joy to the soul and is the perfect music to grow and learn by," wrote Sheri Rosenthal, DPM, author of The Idiot's Guide to Toltec Wisdom.

    Other creative endeavors include screenwriting (with the well-known songwriter/recording artist/actor, cowboy Ed Bruce), poetry, art and a novel that will be published soon.

    James resides on a ridgetop in Tennessee with his wife, singer/songwriter and experiential therapist, Dawn Zurlinden, their too-smart Aussie dogs, Iris and Angel…and a few stray cats.



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