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James Poyser

Songwriter, producer and musician James Jason Poyser was born in Sheffield, England in 1967 to Jamaican parents Reverend Felix and Lilith Poyser. Poyser’s family moved to West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when he was nine years old and he discovered his musical talents in the church. Poyser attended Philadelphia Public Schools and graduated from Temple University with his B.S. degree in finance.

Upon graduation, Poyser apprenticed with the songwriting/producing duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Poyser then established the Axis Music Group with his partners, Vikter Duplaix and Chauncey Childs. He became a founding member of the musical collective Soulquarians and went on to write and produce songs for various legendary and award-winning artists including Erykah Badu, Mariah Carey, John Legend, Lauryn Hill, Common, Anthony Hamilton, D'Angelo, The Roots, and Keyshia Cole. He was credited as writer/producer for multiple songs on Erykah Badu’s debut album, Baduizm; has writer, producer and musician credits on Lauryn Hill’s multiple Grammy-winning album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill; was a musician on Adele’s acclaimed album, 21; and served as executive co-producer and writer on Al Green’s Lay it Down. He was also the executive producer on Badu's highly celebrated albums, Mama's Gun and Worldwide Underground.

He is an active session musician and has contributed to the works of other artists such as Norah Jones, Eric Clapton, Joss Stone, Ziggy Marley, Macy Gray and Femi Kuti. In addition, Poyser has toured, and played live as a keyboardist with Jay-Z, The Roots, Erykah Badu, and Aretha Franklin, among others. He is a regular member of The Roots, and has joined them on stage as the houseband for NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and subsequently The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Poyser’s awards include a Grammy for Best R&B Song in 2003 for co-writing Erykah Badu and Common's hit “Love Of My Life.”

He resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

James Poyser was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 6, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.143

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/6/2014

Last Name

Poyser

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Temple University

Add B. Anderson Elementary School

John P. Turner Middle School

West Philadelphia Catholic High School

George Washington Carver High School for Engineering and Science

Drexel University

First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Sheffield

HM ID

POY01

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

The Beach

Favorite Quote

God Bless You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

1/30/1967

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

England

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Songwriter, producer, and musician James Poyser (1967 - ) was co-founder of the Axis Music Group and founding member of the musical collective Soulquarians. He was a Grammy award-winning songwriter, musician and multi-platinum producer. Poyser was also a regular member of The Roots, and joined them as the houseband for NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Employment

Axis Music Group

Soulquarians

The Roots / The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Poyser's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Poyser lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Poyser describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Poyser talks about his parents' early relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Poyser describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Poyser describes his parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Poyser lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Poyser recalls his family's immigration to England and the United States, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Poyser describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Poyser describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - James Poyser recalls his family's immigration to England and the United States, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - James Poyser talks about his father's church in Sheffield, England

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - James Poyser recalls his education in Great Britain

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - James Poyser describes his early personality

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - James Poyser remembers moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - James Poyser recalls his father founding New Testament Church of God in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - James Poyser talks about adjusting to life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Poyser describes his exposure to American television

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Poyser talks about his parents' decision to move to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Poyser recalls his time at Add B. Anderson Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers family holidays during his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Poyser describes his early education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Poyser talks about his early exposure to playing music

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Poyser recalls his responsibilities during his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Poyser talks about his parents' careers

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Poyser describes his high school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - James Poyser talks about the Philadelphia based organization MOVE

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - James Poyser recalls the violence in his childhood community

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - James Poyser remembers studying chemical engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - James Poyser recalls learning to play the piano

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Poyser describes the differences between playing drums and piano

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Poyser talks about his first exposure to secular music

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Poyser recalls transferring to Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers the music scene at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Poyser recalls meeting DJ Jazzy Jeff

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Poyser talks about touring with CeCe Peniston

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Poyser recalls co-founding Axis Music Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Poyser remembers learning music production from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Poyser remembers learning music production from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Poyser describes his breakthrough work on the 'Baduizm' album

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Poyser talks about his creative process

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Poyser recalls co-writing songs with Erykah Badu

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers his first paycheck after producing the 'Baduizm' album

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Poyser describes his relationship with The Roots

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Poyser talks about the Soulquarians

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Poyser recalls producing music with D'Angelo

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Poyser remembers Common's relationship with Erykah Badu

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - James Poyser describes J Dilla's influence on contemporary music

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Poyser describes Frankie Knuckles' music

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Poyser talks about the evolution of Questlove's stage name

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Poyser recalls performing on The Voodoo World Tour

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers his major projects in 2000

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Poyser recalls producing the 'Mama's Gun' album

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Poyser talks about Common's and Erykah Badu's break up

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Poyser recalls producing the song 'Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)'

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Poyser remembers Jill Scott's involvement with A Touch of Jazz in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Poyser recalls producing music with Lauryn Hill

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Poyser remembers working with Mary J. Blige

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Poyser recalls difficult recording sessions

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Poyser talks about changes in the music industry

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Poyser remembers the birth of his son, Jadyn Poyser

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Poyser recalls joining The Roots on the 'Late Show with David Letterman'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Poyser describes the challenges of playing in a house band

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Poyser talks about his future plans

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Poyser describes his musical influences

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Poyser talks about the appropriation of neo soul music by foreign artists

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Poyser reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Poyser reflects upon the legacies of the artists he's known

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Poyser reflects upon his legacy