Billie James, Australian vocalist who has entertained and enchanted Lakes area audiences for the past 11 years, will perform at the first Downtown Market this season from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, June 12 in Library Square in Estherville.
James will perform the traditional standards, including jazz, as well as contemporary artists such as Mike and the Mechanics and Pink's Glitter in the Air.
"The only thing I don't do is rap," said James, though observing that the 1927 classic Puttin' on the Ritz that she performs is "just like rap."
James, who started her music career at age 16, has performed steadily for the past 51 years. Audience rapport is her hallmark.
"I'm a people person," said James. "It just comes natural when you're believing what you do. It comes naturally."
While her Aussie persona is definitely integral to her performance, James has adopted the States as her second home.
"The last 11 years here in America have been the greatest education in my life as an entertainer," said James.
While some entertainers may find it difficult to re-create themselves - an essential to surviving as a performer - James has continued to evolve, without losing the audience rapport everyone finds so endearing.
"If you constrain the adventurous nature that every human being has then you really don't live," said James. "I'm still living the American dream. America has been the greatest thing that's ever happened to me in my life."
So with entertainment venues such as Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas beckoning, why has James chosen the Lakes area as her preferred venue?
"I'm a country girl and guess what - I'm in the country," she said. "This is my home. Your home is where your heart is."
James' career has brought her in touch with such luminaries as Paul Hogan and the late Steve Irwin - the latter a personal friend of her children. But she's found a definite niche for herself - and her music - right here in northwest Iowa.
"Nowhere else in the world could a woman have the advantages that I've had in America," said James. "I am still living the American dream. The people here in the Midwest are just like the country people and the farmers in Australia. The people are the same."
James' CDs are available at North Star Music Supply at 514 Central Ave. in Estherville.