Chris James – Sounds Wonderful
NAME: Chris James
LOCATION: McLeans Ridges, Australia
Voice Teacher, Musician, Communication Presenter
I was born and raised in the outback of Australia . . . where the two biggest rivers in our country meet, there was a little oasis of green called Curlwaa, and that’s where I was raised. It was green because we had irrigation, but if you went beyond the water pump’s reach it was the most arid country for hundreds of kilometres, and indeed if you headed north or west for thousands of kilometres.
The older siblings in our family of seven seemed to live in a different world to me because they used up the last of the family trust funds, going away to boarding schools, coming home with exotic sports cars, where the constant message that was drummed into me, the youngest, was how poor we were. And so I literally lived a life of hand-me-downs until I left home.
The only real sense of belonging I felt was in the military unit at our school, the school cadets, and this became everything to me, and I ended up being the officer in charge of the unit. This led to me being selected to go to the Australian Military Academy, where my disillusionment with the absolute lack of brotherhood in the trainee officer corps put a full stop to my military career.
It also wasn’t until I left home and ended up at University studying geology (my mother’s choice!) that I also discovered that I had a wonderful voice, and could literally play any instrument I put my hands on.
At last it seemed the world started to make a bit of sense, because up until that point, it had made absolutely no sense at all. I immersed myself totally in the 60s and 70s culture, had very long hair, and played very hard for a couple of years.
This was a seeming dichotomy because all of my life I have had a very strong work ethic, to the point where I was the only ‘hippy’ I knew that worked full time. At that time I was employed as a lab technician at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, working with the Federal Police.
It was not long before I could feel a familiar feeling of emptiness, and this became such a dominant feeling, that I took myself into a monastic life and was a celibate renunciate for five years focusing on hours of meditation, and martial arts training.
During this time and for the next five years as well I led devotional singing every night for a couple of hundred people… This seemed totally natural to me.
After spending 14,600 hours (four hours a day for 10 years – that's almost two years!) in what I thought was meditation I left the ashram and took to living life even more intensely. I started an armed bodyguard business, played music four nights a week in restaurants, and lived a life in an unsustainable momentum that ended up with me dropping everything and moving up to the famous Mullumbimby, in Northern Rivers of New South Wales . . . the alternative centre of Australia.
It was here that in 1985 I first started to present about the healing power of sound, and it quickly became apparent that I had a natural ability to teach and facilitate workshops. I was invited to tune-up large crowds and conferences – 20,000 people at the Woodford Folk Festival, with a choir of 700 strong – and many other events. And so my fame spread . . . Unfortunately so did I, and in no time at all, I was well-known around the world, and 45 kg overweight.
I was teaching with the likes of Deepak Chopra, and selling copious quantities of my dozen or so CDs that I had produced. By this stage my arrogance knew no bounds, and I was doubtless on a collision course with a substantial reality check and it was then, by profound good fortune that I met with my now dear friend Serge Benhayon.
At this stage in my life I really could not hear anyone else’s point of view,
Now I have a deep understanding about the purpose of music and how it can truly serve humanity. My music really used to be all about me, even though the words were ‘noble’ and so-called ‘uplifting’. My experience now is that music is so much more than this, and has deep and far reaching effects on our lives, more than we could ever have imagined.
My vast life-experience with voice and expression has led me to be known internationally and present worldwide. I founded my company ’Sounds Wonderful’ 30 years ago. It has grown into a business with many facets, from community choirs that by their very nature are connecting and healing, and corporate conferences and seminars where the ‘Art of Communication, Self-care and Active Listening’ are paramount, to workshops empowering everyone to speak and sing.
Voice and expression work with kids and teenagers on the edge helps to bring a reality and steadiness into their life as they begin to trust, feel themselves again, not needing to shield themselves from the hardness of life. I work with people of all ages and from many professions and all walks of life. I feel absolutely blessed to be able to travel the world, doing the work I do.
My life continues to evolve now in a way I would have thought impossible. I am now 45 kilos lighter. I love my wife of over 20 years, Jenny, more than ever and find her deeply inspirational. My son is a caring and beautiful young man with extraordinary natural empathy and a wicked sense of humour. And I love my connection with the Divine.