• Laurel Moore

Pop/R&B Artist i.am.james

Updated: Sep 11, 2019



Most people would be surprised to learn that the Pop/R & B artist known as i.am.james is actually a sweet female songstress, whose real name is Sierra Cassidy. When she moved to Nashville last fall, the 21-year-old singer wanted a stage name that was different – a short word that wasn’t too trendy or artsy. After searching through a book of baby names, she chose “James.” But since there could be trademark issues with a 90’s rock band from England with that name, her mom suggested she add the “I am.”

Sierra says it was tricky at first to find the venues in Nashville that book singers in genres other than country, but she is now performing her original songs regularly at small bars and writers rounds. Sierra describes her live music as “singer-songwriter mixed with pop, jazz, and R&B.” Her recorded music has a slightly different vibe. As her own producer, she adds elements of electronic music to achieve a “kind of synthy, almost reminiscent of the 80’s pop” sound. She credits Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Lianne La Havas with influencing her style of music.


Before moving to Music City, Sierra attended Berklee School of Music in Boston. “My heart was in the songwriting but I felt like I needed to have some music business courses under my belt.” After a few semesters of school, she was eager to get out in the real world. Sierra felt lucky to have the support of her parents, “first of all with going to a music college, second of all dropping out!”

But it was that next season of moves and transitions that had the biggest impact on Sierra’s music. She spent six months in Spain, where she “started to fall in love with electronic music.” The underground pop scene in Western Europe inspired her to experiment with electronic instruments and midi sounds on her computer. “I realized a lot of the music I liked and was listening to during that time was music that was produced by one person, and that was pretty empowering for me.”

Sierra also got lyrical inspiration during the period when she was moving around a lot. “Transitions and moves have been the main themes of most of my songs.” Last fall, she released her debut iTunes single “Good Distractions” – a song about finding distractions in people and vices in the window of time between moves. Sierra is proud to have written, recorded, and produced her single and feels it is an accurate representation of “who I am, what I want to sound like.”



Although Nashville is a town known for co-writing, Sierra prefers to write alone (for now at least). “Writing is mentally therapeutic for me; it’s a good outlet.” Her journal is filled with poetry and autobiographical musings – some of which will make their way into a song. Sierra admits there is a certain amount of vulnerability when sharing intimate thoughts and experiences in a song, so she would sometimes pretend she was writing about other people. “When I first started songwriting, I was pretty terrified to have anything personal and emotional be exposed… but now there’s no holding back.”


After growing up in a small town in Michigan and then living in Boston and Spain, Sierra feels that Nashville was a good move for her. “The people are so nice here… just random acts of kindness all the time.” She also likes the “amazing selection of restaurants and bars.” Sierra hopes to collaborate with more musicians and producers, and play more shows with a full band. New music is also in the works. For a schedule of upcoming shows, go to www.facebook.com/iamjamesmusic

For more information, check out the website www.iamjamesmusic.com

Fun Facts & Trivia

Best gig to date: BlissFest (Michigan)

Childhood idols: Spice Girls and Britney Spears

Best concert: Lianne La Havas

Favorite local restaurant: Le Sel

Favorite dive bar: Mickey’s Tavern

Favorite movies: The Royal Tenenbaums, Dirty Dancing

Live show photo (bottom right) by Andrew Clement

Additional photography by Laurel Moore

Written by Laurel Moore for Live Laugh Love Nashville

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