1993 - 2020 (27 years)
||James Cameron |
|Eby ID Number
||25 Jan 2020 
||20 Mar 2023 |
- Kitchener country music performer, James Cameron, dies at 26
Country music performer James Scott Cameron dies at age 26
KITCHENER - James Scott Cameron, a popular country music artist, died Sunday at the age of 26.
Cameron, who started his own band while still in high school, had performed in Nashville, made recordings, and was a frequent attraction at area festivals, bars and other local venues.
As lead singer of the Hamilton-based Bareback Riders, he helped that band modernize their music and appeal to young fans.
But his father, Ken Cameron, said James was frustrated at not being able to move his career to the next level.
"He kind of lived two lives. When you put him on stage, under the spotlight, he was a machine.
"But in his private life, he was suffering."
Ken shared his story in hopes more people will focus on mental health.
He noted that Wednesday is Bell Let's Talk Day, which encourages people to remove the stigma around mental health by talking about it.
James lived at home with his parents. They saw him perform at the Whale & Ale pub in Kitchener Friday night.
"He was great," smiling and engaging with the audience, Ken said.
But just over a day later, James took his own life.
He didn't leave a note.
Ken said his pain as a father is "unimaginable."
James was a hockey player who played goaltender for the Kitchener Rangers Jr. A team for 10 years as a child.
He launched his musical career while still a teenager.
He sang with the Bareback Riders and also started his own band while attending St. Mary's High School in Kitchener.
Among the performers in the James Cameron Band was James' sister, Britanie Hagen.
Ken said the family used to go on road trips to Florida and Oklahoma when the children were young, and would play songs including country, pop and Broadway show tunes while on the road.
"The three of them (James, Britanie and another sister, Jennifer) would sing every song at the top of their lungs. It was crazy," he said.
They also gravitated to country music while singing on the karaoke system in the basement of the family home.
"I've always lived in the city but that's just the music I listen to and I love," James told this newspaper in 2013, just before he opened for Blue Rodeo at a festival in Lucknow.
Ken said James was thrilled to make a trip to Nashville with the band, where they were well received and were asked to return.
Andrew Mackay, majority owner of the Stampede Ranch in Guelph (and of the Stampede Corral in Kitchener before it closed in 2018), said James was " a big part of the local country scene."
"There will be a significant void without James around," said Mackay.
Mackay said it is extremely difficult to get to the national stage in country music, and even harder to become a "known commodity" in Nashville.
"But James actually had a chance \emdash he was that good and he possessed a great attitude," Mackay said.
Colin Connors, drummer for the Bareback Riders, said James started as their lead singer at age 18.
He was much younger than the other band members, and led the group through a "significant change in direction" that allowed them to appeal to a much younger crowd.
"He kept us relevant" with more hip-hop influenced country songs, Connors said.
"People like James Cameron make country cool again."
At the same time, Connors said, they knew that James would eventually want to part ways with the band so he could concentrate on his own career, which including writing and performing his own work. The Bareback Riders are strictly a cover band.
About two years ago, James stopped working with the band regularly, though he continued to appear with them as lead singer on occasion.
Connors said the band members were shocked to hear that James had ended his life.
"We're still beside ourselves, and can't understand what happened," he said.
He said young artists are under a lot of pressure to realize their dreams. It's different from his own situation as a man in his late 50s who operates a business and plays music on the side.
Both Connors and Ken Cameron, James' father, said there is a mental health clinic specifically for musicians that can be reached at www.musiciansclinics.com
Ken Cameron said he wishes that James had reached out for help.
James had wanted to do more work in Nashville and perform at bigger venues.
"He wanted it so bad, and he couldn't find the right door that would open for him."
Ken thought James was happy when he was younger and playing hockey.
Later, living the life of a musician with many late nights and sleeping through most of the mornings, "the light was not there quite so much," and he seemed more withdrawn, Ken said..
"We could tell his personality had changed, and he was in trouble."
A music-filled celebration of James' life will be held Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Schwaben Club in Kitchener. All are welcome.
Donations will be received for KidsAbility "in honour of James' niece, Zofia," the obituary says.
D'Amato, Luisa. "Kitchener Country Music Performer, James Cameron, Dies At 26". Therecord.Com, 2020, https://www.therecord.com/news-story/9833856-kitchener-country-music-performer-james-cameron-dies-at-26/. Accessed 29 Jan 2020.