YouTube du Jour: Luke James

The 2012 Essence Music Festival lineup was announced this morning, and among the list of local artists is a name most people hadn’t heard before this past fall: Luke James.

With the homepage and Twitter handle @WhoIsLukeJames, James knows fans are probably curious where he came from. But the St. Augustine grad (real name: Luke Boyd) has already been around the music industry block. With his friend Quinten Spears, he formed an R&B duo that performed around New Orleans. After high school, the two moved to Los Angeles, where they picked up a gig as background singers for the R&B star Tyrese. That led to a record deal as Luke & Q. The duo released one album, and had some small success with the single “My Turn”. When the two parted ways in 2009, James got assorted work as a songwriter for major-label artists like Chris Brown and Keri Hilson, and as an actor in the music videos for Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” (1:42 in) and Melanie Fiona’s “4 AM”.

Now signed to Def Jam Records, Luke James released this video for his song “I Want You”—which he wrote with production team Kadis and Sean—last month. The song has proved robust enough for a slot at Essence, and for Wild Wayne of Q93, James’ favorite radio station growing up, to proclaim 2012 the year of Luke James. His latest offering is the mixtape #Luke (stream/download below), tiding fans over until an album planned for later this year.