James Stroud's history as a musician, producer, music publisher and industry executive spans over 40 years. As a percussionist he has played behind the likes of The Pointer Sisters, Paul Simon, Gladys Knight, Bob Seger and dozens more, and he produced his first hit in 1976 with the triple platinum-selling "Misty Blue" by Dorothy Moore. Many hits and production accolades have followed. Stroud achieved major country music success producing albums for Tim McGraw and Clint Black in the 1990s.
After making his foray into the record label side of the industry, Stroud has been at the helm of Giant Records (at which time he discovered Clay Walker), DreamWorks Records Nashville (where he signed Toby Keith and produced four of the singer's multi-platinum albums) and served as Co-Chairman of Universal Music Group in Nashville (steering the careers of the likes of Vince Gill, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire and Sugarland). There is no doubt that James Stroud is a true music visionary. To date, he has produced albums that have collectively sold over 52 million copies, and had 131 #1 records, including four recent consecutive chart-toppers with rising country star Chris Young.
In 2008 Stroud formed his new independent record label, Stroudavarious Records. From its inception, Stroudavarious attracted some of the finest artists in country music, including Willie Nelson and Darryl Worley. In May of 2011, Stroud announced the launch of R&J Records with partner Rick Carter of Gulfport, MS. The same executive team that ran Stroudavarious Records now runs the new Nashville-based label. Stroudavarious Records' artists Aaron Lewis, Alexa Carter, LoCash Cowboys and Rob Lane all moved to the R&J Records roster with their current projects.
Aaron Lewis debuted at #1 on the SoundScan Country Albums chart with his solo debut EP, Town Line, and celebrated the Gold Certification of the first digital single from that project, "Country Boy." Lewis just released "Endless Summer," the first single from his forthcoming full album, The Road (coming June 26). Alexa Carter just released "The Ballerina EP, her R&J debut, and continues in the studio with Stroud working on material for her debut album. LoCash Cowboys are continuing their always-rigorous touring schedule as they prepare to release new single, "C.O.U.N.T.R.Y." to country radio.
In November of 2011, R&J released the critically-acclaimed "Remember Me, Vol. 1" from the incomparable Willie Nelson. "Remember Me, Vol. 2" is scheduled for release later this year. Rob Lane's debut single, "The Best Is Yet To Come," is scheduled for a 2012 release. Lane comes to the label through a joint venture with Dale Morris' DMP Records.
Few people have contributed more than James Stroud to the shape and direction of country music in recent decades, and few resumes have been so relevant for so long. Behind it all, though, is a simple mindset Stroud is quick to cite: "without great music, there's no point to any of this."
"Even though the business model of the music industry changes," Stroud has said, "the one constant has been the importance of the artists and their songs. The vision of R&J Records is for the creativity to take precedence and to allow the music to take care of the business."