Find Your Voice

Chris James ’15

During his freshman year at the University of Mobile, Chris James was a wallflower, someone so quiet one of his classmates wondered if he could speak at all. Then music helped him find his voice, and God amplified it so people around the world could hear it.

Now in his third year as the announcer for the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, James has learned that risk is worth the reward, especially when you let a higher power organize your steps at every crossroads.

A drummer since he was a young boy, James used to ride his 4-wheeler to church to perform for the congregation, which included his grandparents. He performed through high school, and that’s when his life’s path began to take shape after he was introduced to the university’s RamCorps visual brass and percussion ensemble.

The Pensacola native had his choice of colleges in Florida, based on his academics and musical abilities. He had long assumed his percussion skills were nowhere near good enough to join RamCorps. But he and his mother came to Mobile anyway. And when they sat down with RamCorps director and chair of the music department, Associate Professor Kenn Hughes, they were surprised to learn that he had already drawn up James’ admission paperwork, complete with a music scholarship.

“It was almost as if he knew RamCorps was where I needed to be,” James said.

Fast forward to a RamCorps trip to Jamaica when James was a sophomore. He and his fellow musicians were at a small hotel in Montego Bay when the subject turned to the fact that James had not yet been baptized. He’d given his life over to Christ the year before, but hadn’t dipped his head in the symbolic baptismal waters.

So, after a challenge from Hughes, James said, “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right now in this hotel pool in Jamaica.” So he did.

“That’s just how much he cared about us becoming better people as we were getting ready to step into life,” James said of Hughes. “He cared about every one of us, and it was an experience I know for a fact that I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

“RamCorps was everything.”

In addition to making music while in school, he’d eventually announced games for all the University of Mobile sports teams. So after graduating in 2015, James applied for work with all the major southeastern sports teams, even the Harlem Globetrotters.

His godfather, Glover “Action” Jackson, had been a star Globetrotter in the ’90s, so James figured, why not try and join the production? The 22-year-old reached out to the team’s show producer persistently for more than a year before being granted an audition. They flew him to Atlanta for the tryout and James flourished, only to be beaten out at the end by an older, more experienced candidate.

So he did what he always did in times of uncertainty; he found a quiet place and prayed. He asked God to reveal His plans, and whatever they were, to arrange James’ steps accordingly. A few months later, the Globetrotters’ new hire was out, and James was in.

During his second week with the team, the awestruck young man found himself in New York’s Madison Square Garden, announcing a professional basketball game before thousands of fans.

“You watch NBA games on TV and you never think you’re going to end up in all these NBA arenas, let alone have your voice ring throughout the rafters,” James said. “Going through this whole process really showed me I had a lot of perseverance to see something all the way through, and that God kept His word that if this was what He wanted me to have, He’d order my steps to accomplish it.”

About the Author

Michael Dumas