Luke James

Luke James enjoyed considerable success in two mediums: he was a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter, as well as an actor with credits that included "The New Edition Story" (BET, 2017) and Lee Daniels' "Star" (Fox, 2016- ). Born Luke James Boyd in New Orleans, Louisiana, he was raised by his mother, whom he credited with introducing him to a rich and diverse array of musical acts, from R&B singer like Marvin Gaye to country acts like Alabama. He made his initial foray into the entertainment industry while attending St. Augustine High School; there, he joined a vocal trio called Upskale, which in turn brought him to his longtime manager and choreographer, Frank Gatson. After graduation, the trio folded and James headed for Los Angeles, where he teamed with fellow aspiring singer Quinten Spears to form a duo, Luke & Q. The pair enjoyed the patronage of singer Tyrese, which led to a contract with J Records, though their debut single, "My Turn" (2004), found few interested listeners, and again, James went the solo route. He found greater success as a songwriter for the producer Danja, contributing to such hits as Chris Brown's "Crawl," Justine Bieber's "That Should Be Me" and Keri Hilson's "Do It." James's work for others led to increased opportunities for his own music career, culminating in the release of "#Luke" (2011), which marked his debut as a solo artist. The lead single, "I Want You," earned both the Soul Train Award for Best New Artist and a 2014 Grammy nod for Best R&B Performance, and led to a high-profile opening slot on Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" in 2013. James also began delving into acting, appearing in independent features before earning a supporting role in Kasi Lemmons' "Black Nativity" (2013), based on the play by Langston Hughes. James continued to write and record his own music, which was showcased in a slew of music videos that served as a preview for his self-titled debut album in 2014. Luke James generated a Top 40 hit with "Options," featuring rapper Rick Ross, which reached No. 28 and earned the singer a second Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song. He then returned to acting, playing R&B singer Johnny Gill in BET's miniseries "The New Edition Story" (2017) before moving into a series regular role as a faded R&B singer on the Fox series "Star" (2016- ) for producer Lee Daniels. In 2018, he was cast as hip-hop impresario Sean "P. Diddy" Combs in "Unsolved" (USA Network, 2018- ). The scripted serial, produced and directed by Anthony Hemingway ("American Crime Story," 2016- ), dramatized the investigations by an LAPD detective (played by Josh Duhamel) into the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G.