James Shrader is a retired Professor of Music at Valdosta State University in Valdosta GA, and also taught at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University. He was a visiting professor at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. For 13 years, Jim was Director of Music and Fine Arts at the First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland. He is past president of the Fellowship of American Baptist Musicians and past president of the Cleveland Institute of Music Alumni Association.

Today, Jim is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover what this album, and this collaboration with The Crossing, means to him personally…

What was the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?

When I was Associate Conductor of Choral Activities at Texas Tech, I was conducting the Women’s Ensemble in their season debut concert. I dutifully sent them onstage and then made my entrance to the usual conductor’s applause. I bowed, turned to the choir to begin, when, to my horror, I realized I had forgotten my music and my stand was empty! I quickly left the stage (without explanation) and dashed to my studio to retrieve my scores. After what seemed like an eternity, I returned to the stage holding aloft my music and trying to disguise my embarrassment.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Since my retirement in 2016, in addition to composing, I became a licensed Realtor and joined my wife’s real estate team. I also earned my FAA Part 107 Unmanned Aircraft Pilot’s license. My guilty pleasure is to fly my DJI Phantom 4 Professional drone either shooting aerial photography for our business or just to fly for fun.

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Our son and daughter-in-law are both very successful international opera stars. However, their greatest achievement was, four years ago, the arrival of their daughter (and our granddaughter!), Eva. To our great joy, my wife and I became grandparent “nannies” and have accompanied this operatic family in many adventures around the world. To observe the creativity of this toddler emerge through her myriad experiences has been amazing. I happily spend my creative time with her, receiving great inspiration!

What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

The sound of The Crossing on the very first phrase of the recording session perfectly aligned with the sound I heard in my head as I was composing the music. It’s truly amazing when this occurs. I had anticipated that their sound would be just right for my music and I was thrilled to be correct!

What does this album mean to you personally?

To have one’s creation performed by any ensemble is always a unique and satisfying experience. But in the hands of Donald Nally and the voices of The Crossing, this experience becomes incomparable! I have heard my music performed by many ensembles, but never where I could close my eyes and think, “There – that’s exactly what I had in mind!” The technical expertise of PARMA’s engineers only serves to highlight and heighten the listening experience. I am very grateful to all for this opportunity and experience.

Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?

Since my days as a full-time church musician and through my time in academia, I have been committed to composing music for my various in-house ensembles. It developed that my personal creative preference became music for the Nativity season. The majority of my choral works center on Christmas and Advent. I prefer the English choral sound that is epitomized in the King’s Nine Lessons and Carols service. While many choirs, including my own, have performed my music, the sound of The Crossing on this recording perfectly aligns with my thoughts to make this music come alive. My music is well-suited to university and advanced church choirs and I am encouraged to welcome more live performances.

Angels Sang with Mirth and Glee on EVOLUTIONARY SPIRITS is now available for streaming or purchase through Navona Records. Click here to explore this new album.



  • James Shrader

    James Shrader is a composer, conductor, author, and retired academic administrator. He holds degrees from Bradley University (Music Education), The Cleveland Institute of Music (Opera Direction), and Texas Tech University (Fine Arts/Conducting). He was Director of Music and Fine Arts at The First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland, Associate Director of Choral Activities at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State Universities, Chair of the Music Department and Director of Choral and Opera Studies at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, and Head of the Department of Music at Valdosta State University. He was Chorus Master for Tulsa Opera where he prepared nine productions.