James LaBrie is one of the most recognizable and highly acclaimed vocalists in the progressive rock and metal world, best known as the powerful and dynamic voice of Dream Theater. In a career that has spanned over 30 years, James has recorded a multitude of albums, both with Dream Theater and various side projects (Frameshift, Tim Donahue, Explorer’s Club, True Symphonic Rockestra and more), and appeared in several DVD’s featuring Dream Theater’s live performances.
Kevin James Labrie was born on May 5, 1963 in Penetanguishene, a town in Ontario, Canada. James’ parents say that when he was three years old, he would walk around the house singing whatever songs were on the radio. Although he didn’t get the words right, he could sing the melodies. Inspired by his father, James started singing and playing drums at age 5: “My parents say I was tapping on everything so if they didn’t get me a drum set, I’d ruin the house!” When he was six years old, he was very intent on replicating different vocal styles and techniques. It was obvious that his voice was very mature for a six year old. When James was in elementary school, his teacher put him in singing class to further his training. Meanwhile, his father, uncle, and brothers were in a barber shop quartet, which James was made a part of.
Yet James’ real love was rock music which he pursued by his early teens. By fourteen, James was singing and playing drums in several bands. However, James knew that drums were secondary to his true passion, singing. At eighteen, James moved to Toronto, Canada.
At age 21, he began vocal training with the renowned vocal coach Rosemary Patricia Burns. After working with several Canadian bands, James became the vocalist for Winter Rose, which almost signed with Atlantic Records. Then Pierre Paradis, who managed the band Voi Vod, approached James regarding a solo project with Aquarius Records. He also told James about a New York based band called Dream Theater who were looking for a vocalist. The rest, as they say, is history.
James’ musical tastes are quite varied as he names Metallica, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Journey, Rush, Yes, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Judas Priest as well as classical composers Mozart, Vivaldi and Beethoven as favorites. Influential vocalists include Steve Perry (formerly of Journey), Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Ian Gillan, Lou Gramm, Steven Tyler and Nat King Cole. James continues to practice with Ms. Burns and encourages other vocalists to pursue formal training.
Throughout his musical career, James has become one of the most well-respected and admired vocalists in progressive rock. As the voice of Dream Theater and guest performer on numerous side projects, James has helped to define the sound of progressive music for the next millenium. His incredible range and distinctive, intense and dynamic vocal performances have earned him accolades from fans and critics alike.
In addition to Dream Theater’s numerous studio and live releases, James has also appeared on releases by Fates Warning and Shadow Gallery, Evergrey, Eden's Curse, Trent Gardner’s Explorer’s Club and Leonardo the Absolute Man, the first Frameshift album (Unweaving the Rainbow), Ayreon’s The Human Equation, True Symphonic Rockestra, as well as tribute albums to Rush, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Queen.
In 1999, James completed and released the first MullMuzzler cd, Keep it to Yourself to much critical acclaim. The followup, James LaBrie’s MullMuzzler 2, was released on September 11th, 2001. In 2005, James dropped the MullMuzzler moniker (for the more recognizable James LaBrie) and released Elements of Persuasion, the third his solo efforts. James’ highly anticipated fourth solo effort, Static Impulse, was released in September 2010 and offers up brilliantly dynamic and melodic extreme metal mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (Opeth, Paradise Lost). In July 2013, LaBrie's next solo album Impermanent Resonance was released by Inside Out Music and featured the same lineup and mixing team as Static Impulse. In 2022, LaBrie took a dramatic change in direction, partnering with Eden's Curse bassist Paul Logue to write and record an acoustic based solo album, steeped in the music of 70's classic rock giants like Zeppelin, Purple etc. The resulting album Beautiful Shade of Grey features 9 original songs and a blistering cover of Zeppelin's Ramble On and see's LaBrie in fine voice, with arguably his strongest solo album to date.
When not on the road, James enjoys camping, downhill skiing and reading. His favorite authors include Anne Rice, Dee Brown, Robert Utley, Amor Towles, Leo Tolstoy, Jonathan L. Howard, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Forest Carter. James currently lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife Karen, daughter Chloe, and son Chance.