Kevin James LaBrie (born May 5, 1963) is a Canadian vocalist and songwriter, who is best known as the lead singer of the American progressive metal band Dream Theater.
Kevin James LaBrie was born in Penetanguishene, Ontario, Canada and started playing drums at age 5. By his mid-teens, he was a member of several bands as a front man that attempted singing and/or drumming. He stopped playing drums at age 17 and in 1981, at age 18, he moved to Toronto to further his musical pursuits.
After stints with various bands, LaBrie became the vocalist for the glam metal band Winter Rose, who released their self-titled album in 1989.
In 1990, LaBrie learned that American progressive metal band Dream Theater was looking for a new singer, so he submitted a tape and was quickly flown to New York for a full audition. The trial went well, and he was chosen ahead of 200 other hopefuls to fill the full-time vocalist position in that band.
LaBrie has since had a significant impact on the vocal melodies on each Dream Theater album, but until recently has had little input on the instrumentation of Dream Theater's music - 2011's A Dramatic Turn of Events features LaBrie in the music credits on three songs. To date he has written or co-written lyrics for at least one song on eight of the eleven albums Dream Theater has released with him in the band, Images and Words, Black Clouds & Silver Linings and Dream Theater containing none of them.
Asked by Prog-Sphere.com what is his favorite Dream Theater song to play live, James says "The favorite song for me is Scarred, I love performing that live. And… well, Octavarium, that whole freakin’ thing."
With Matt Guillory, LaBrie has released five solo albums under various names (Mullmuzzler, James LaBrie's Mullmuzzler, and simply James LaBrie).
In an interview from "Beyond The Dark Horizon" on June 12, 2010, James LaBrie stated that his next solo album entitled "Static Impulse", is in the mixing stages and will contain 12 tracks. James stated "It’s very heavy and I’m really excited."
On July 27, 2010 it was announced on Dream Theater's website that "Static Impulse" would be released on September 27, 2010 through InsideOut Music. It features longtime collaborator Matt Guillory on keyboards, Marco Sfogli ("Elements of Persuasion") on guitars, Peter Wildoer from DARKANE on drums/screaming vocals, and Ray Riendeau on bass.
James LaBrie stated "The release of Static Impulse is one that the whole band is psyched about. This is modern metal and as heavy and relevant as any other band out there going in a similar musical direction. There are riffs that will blow your head off and melodies both musically and vocally that are hypnotic. Get in the driver's seat and let the ears bleed. Enjoy and see you out there with a tour to follow up and support this release."
In 2011's interview for Prog-Sphere.com, LaBrie stated that the US tour got cancelled, saying "Because it was so disorganized last time. That’s why I basically said, 'You don’t have the visas yet. Where we’re at this point, by the time you get the visas processed, we're gonna have one rehearsal and then we're gonna go out.' And I said, 'I'm not doing that.' "
In July 2013, LaBrie's album "Impermanent Resonance" was released.
Throughout his career with Dream Theater, LaBrie has lent his voice to many other artists' records as well as tribute albums. In 1991, not long after joining Dream Theater (and before ever appearing on a Dream Theater recording), he sang background vocals on the song "Life in Still Water" on Fates Warning's "Parallels" album. He has appeared on many Trent Gardner releases (including Leonardo: The Absolute Man and Explorer's Club), as well as appearing on albums by such artists as Ayreon (The Human Equation, released 2004), Shadow Gallery, Tim Donahue and Frameshift.
LaBrie is also a featured vocalist on Henning Pauly's "Babysteps" project released in 2006; LaBrie plays the role of the arrogant doctor.
Since 2004, LaBrie has been working with the True Symphonic Rockestra project, along with Thomas Dewald, Vladimir Grishko, Dirk Ulrich, Christoph Wansleben, Sandro Martinez, Paul Mayland, Marvin Philippi, and Igor Marin. Their album, "Concerto In True Minor - 3 Rock Tenors" was released on iTunes and for download on Amazon on March 28, 2008 by Brainworx and Marinsound.
LaBrie currently resides in Toronto, Ontario, with his wife Karen, daughter Chloe, and son Chance. His Dream Theater bandmate, Jordan Rudess, jokingly nicknamed him Pirate, as he stated in the Chaos in Motion DVD. According to the parody rock band, Nightmare Cinema (the Dream Theater members changing instruments playing a gig), he got the "alternate stage name" Abdul Matahari.
James had said in many older interviews that he was Christian, and actively practiced the religion. However, in 2005 he revealed that he's since strayed from organized religion, and now considers himself "a more spiritual-directed person." In 2011, he made a guest appearance with the band Eden's Curse doing backup vocals for the song "No Holy Man", a song that deals with religious intolerance.
His musical inspiration comes from many different genres, including such artists as Sebastian Bach, Aerosmith, Don Dokken, Metallica, The Doors, Ludwig van Beethoven, Nat King Cole, Queen, Sting, and Muse whose inspiration, according to LaBrie, is shown on Dream Theater's album, Octavarium.
LaBrie is widely known for his lyric tenor style singing voice. He was voted by fans to #15 on MusicRadar's "The greatest vocalists of all time" in 2010. During his career with Dream Theater, LaBrie's singing voice has also attracted a lot of criticism due to inconsistent live performances where LaBrie has struggled holding pitch and has had breathlessness during songs. In response to detractors of his vocal abilities, LaBrie has said, "These people are pathetic and need to move on. I say get a life and maybe work on making your life a better one instead of thinking the answer lies in cutting someone else up to raise your miserable spirit."
Food poisoning incident
On December 29, 1994, while vacationing in Cuba, LaBrie was stricken with a severe case of food poisoning from contaminated pork and while vomiting, he ruptured his vocal cords. He saw three throat specialists who all said there was nothing they could do except have him rest his voice as much as possible. However, on January 12, 1995, and against doctor's orders, he was on the "Awake" tour in Japan with his voice far from normal. LaBrie has said he did not feel vocally "normal" until at least 2002. LaBrie has said that this was a very hard time for him as a singer, and depression as a result caused him to consider departing from the band, although his bandmates supported him and told him to stay. After the "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" tour he discovered that his voice had fully returned. He has said that his voice was fully healed by time and training. Starting from the summer of 2008 and through today James studies with vocal coach Jaime Vendera and since then he has been saying that his voice is even better than it once was.
As a guest
- Fates Warning - Parallels (1991)
- Various Artists - Working Man – A Tribute to Rush (1996)
- Various Artists - Dragon Attack: A Tribute to Queen (1997)
- Shadow Gallery - Tyranny (1998)
- Explorers Club - Age of Impact (1998)
- Various Artists - Encores, Legends & Paradox - A Tribute to the Music Of ELP (1999)
- Trent Gardner - Leonardo: The Absolute Man (2001)
- Explorers Club - Raising the Mammoth (2002)
- Frameshift - Unweaving the Rainbow (2003)
- Tim Donahue - Madmen & Sinners (2004)
- Ayreon - The Human Equation (2004)
- Henning Pauly - Babysteps (2006)
- John Macaluso - The Radio Waves Goodbye (2007)
- True Symphonic Rockestra - Concerto in True Minor (2008)
- Roswell Six - Terra Incognita: Beyond The Horizon (2009)
- Redemption - Snowfall on Judgment Day (2009)
- Eden's Curse - Trinity (2011)
- James LaBrie official web site
- 2011 interview with James LaBrie on Prog Sphere
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