James"Kimo" Williams was born in Amityville, New York, and spent much of his childhood divided between Air Force bases, urban neighborhoods of Baltimore, rural Mississippi and on his grandparents’ sharecropper farm in North Carolina. Moving to Hawaii with his father in 1967, he volunteered to serve in the military and was deployed to Vietnam in 1970.
He holds an MA in Management from Webster University as well as a BA in Composition from Berklee College of Music in Boston. As a composer, he has released four CDs of original works, including two with his fusion ensemble “Kimotion”. His symphonic works have been performed by the symphonies of Detroit, Atlanta, Savannah, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Alabama, Lancaster, PA, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, Czech Republic and others. His string quartet “Into the Liquid” was commission by the New York-based Ethel quartet and premiered at the 2013 BAM Next Wave Festival. His AT&T commission, “Fanfare for Life” was performed July 7th, 2018 at the Antietam Battlegrounds in Sharpsburg MD by The Maryland Symphony Orchestra to celebrate Independence Day.
As a Vietnam Veteran composer, many of his compositions are inspired by his experience and interest in the military, including the award-winning “Symphony for the Sons of Nam”. His “Buffalo Soldiers/American Soldier”, was commissioned by the West Point Military Academy in 2002 to celebrate their centennial.
He also began his passion for photography while serving in Vietnam. As a photographer his works have won several awards dating back to early 1980s. His images have been featured in the Smithsonian Magazine and the National Vietnam Arts Museum in Chicago. Recently Kimo’s photography was jury-selected and curated at; The Berkeley Arts Center in West Virginia The Scarab Club in Detroit MI and the Cooperstown Art Gallery in New York.
In 2003, he co-founded the “Lt Dan Band” featuring actor Gary Sinise, performing for the USO worldwide. During these tours captured images from around the world to include Afghanistan and Kuwait.
He has received numerous awards for his music to include; the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Excellence in the Arts Award: People To People International’s Presidents Award: the Lancaster Symphony’s 38th Recipient - Composers Award for Contributions to American Music and the League of Black Women’s Black Rose Award. He is a Fulbright Specialist and Encore Purpose Prize Fellow.
Kimo and his creative partner and wife Carol (also a musician and US Army veteran) lives in Shepherdstown West Virginia on the Potomac River, regularly donate their time to support their non-profit organization the United States Veterans Arts Program (usvap.org)
He is currently a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Organization) Advocacy member representing the State of West Virginia to the 116th US Congress.
More on his music can be found at this link. Catalog.
More of his photography can be found here.