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Sunday November 23rd 2014

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Dupré on Deck

By Bradley “Beej” Davis Jr.

If it weren’t for the internet, singer/songwriter James Dupré would probably be a meteorologist. The self-proclaimed “weather nerd” was born in Bayou Chicot, a small community in southern Louisiana. Dupré grew up listening to the music of Randy Travis, Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Jr. and Vince Gill, so it’s no surprise his satiny smooth singing voice has a distinct southern twang.

The singer/songwriter will be coming back to Pensacola March 8 and March 10 to perform with local favorite Tanya Gallagher at The Fish House Deck Bar. Dupré was glad to take time from his busy schedule to perform with Gallagher and answer a few questions for the IN.

IN: Last time we chatted back in 2008, you were an EMT-paramedic at night. Are you still doing that, or has more of your time been comprised of writing, performing, etc.?
Dupré: I was lucky enough to give that up last Spring, so I could focus all of my time and energy on bettering myself as a performer and as a songwriter. It was a great time to leave that job as well, because I did it for nearly six years, which I think is a perfect amount of time to get the full bucket of life experiences that being a paramedic has to offer. Any longer amount of time, and I’m afraid I’d have gotten burnt out and looked back on it as a negative part of my life. Now I can look back on those years and know that it was an overall very positive experience.

IN: That’s got to be pretty cool to be known “worldwide.” Your website says you’re known from Finland to the Philippines. What do you contribute to your broad popularity?
Dupré: I have Al Gore to thank for inventing the internet. I honestly believe that without my videos on YouTube, I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am standing today.  The internet knows no boundaries. I record a video of myself in my living room, post it on YouTube, and suddenly it’s available worldwide. If you have an internet connection in the middle of the Sahara, you can hear me sing. It’s mind-blowing. And with a little marketing, you reach the right audiences and suddenly, people from all corners of the earth are commenting and messaging you.

IN: You mentioned in our last interview that you were working on an album with some Nashville producers, but also stated, “We are making sure that we take our time, working one step at a time. That way, in the end, everyone is happy with the finished product, and I have no doubt that we will be happy.” Then in 2010 you released “It’s All Happening.” Is that album title a testament to all the hard work you’ve put into making this album?
Dupré: Absolutely. It was my very first project ever, and I was working with the best of the best in Nashville. Now, two years later, I still sometimes pinch myself when I think about all of the amazing people who collaborated and put in so much time and effort in making it sound as great as it did. At that time, I had no record deal, but it didn’t matter. I was so happy with the outcome of that project, that I felt like I was on top of the world. It really was “all happening.”

IN:  You’ve said that YouTube has helped with your stardom. Was YouTube what helped you land your performance on Ellen?
Dupré: Yes. Ellen sometimes has musical guests that no one has ever heard of, for the sole purpose of giving them a shot to be heard and seen by millions. Usually she finds these people on YouTube, and I was no exception. There were a lot of my fans that were sending in my videos to her show, until one day in early 2010, I got an e-mail from one of her producers. At first, I thought it was a joke. But it turned out to be the real deal, and a week later, I found myself at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif. doing a taping of the Ellen show. Now, that was a whirlwind. It was so much fun, and Ellen was just as pleasant and funny in person as I’d hoped she’d be.

IN:  Your performances at Fish House on March 8 and 10 are alongside one of Pensacola’s favorite songwriters and performers, Tanya Gallagher, correct? Can you tell me a little about how you two met and how you decided to form this dynamic duo?
Dupré: That’s correct. My manager, David Batten, is a friend of Tanya’s father, and David had heard her sing a few times around Pensacola. He e-mailed me some of her material, and I was blown away. She’s got one of the most uniquely soulful voices that I’ve ever heard, and I knew that I had to meet her. So, last month, I went to Pensacola for the Blake Shelton concert and Tanya and I got to jam a bit and just hung out. We had a great time. She’s a pleasure to be around. So we decided to put together this show at the Fish House, and I’m just stoked to be able to share the stage with her. It’ll be kind of a laid-back jam session, which is right up my alley.

IN: It’s rumored that Pensacola is your most favorite city in the entire universe. Could you please elaborate?
Dupré: Well, isn’t it everybody’s favorite place? I absolutely love coming to Pensacola, and I’ve never had a bad time here. The beach is about as beautiful as it gets, the people are incredible, great bars, restaurants, and that’s about all I need to get through life. So, let’s just say that you’ll eventually get tired of seeing me here.

IN: Anything else you want to get off your chest?
Dupré: I’m a bit of a weather-nerd. I don’t think most people know this, but I did two years of meteorology in college before I ever became a paramedic. So, if you see me on the beach getting excited over different cloud types and changes in wind direction, don’t commit me. I’m just being me.

JAMES DUPRE AND TANYA GALLAGHER
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday, March 8 and 9 p.m. Saturday, March 10
WHERE: The Fish House Deck Bar, 600 S. Barracks St.
COST: Free
DETAILS: jamesdupre.com