James Brandt Curran, more popularly known through his YouTube music videos as JTM (formerly James The Mormon), is a 31-year-old (19 August 1986) Mormon music artist whose stage name, unique style, unparalleled quality of music has garnered him great notice in the hip-hop and rap industry.
James’ mother is a United States Ambassador and a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As she traveled the world she took her family with her allowing James the opportunity to grow up in several different places — Taiwan, China, Virginia, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Although he was born into the Church, it took him some time to gain a personal testimony. It wasn’t until he was in the Missionary Training Center (MTC), at the age of 23, with virtually no knowledge of gospel doctrine, that he finally gained his testimony. He speaks fluent Russian, and as he explained in an interview with LDS Living, “music is just a hobby.”
Since serving his mission, he has made it a personal goal to always be actively engaged as a member missionary. The 31-year-old music artist is using his God-given talents to indirectly share the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with a unique perspective. He has already produced several YouTube videos on his channel that have gone viral. His first video called “Restoration” was published on 19 August 2015, and as of early May 2018, it has garnered more than 178,000 views.
On 23 August 2015, James posted a message on his Facebook page about an upcoming video that he is working on. He stated, “Hi! I’m looking for beats for my next track about the Plan of Salvation and future songs. If you know someone who produces/makes beats please introduce me.” Since then he has produced other videos with more in the works. His latest video, from his new album We Came to Play, is called “Gravity” and features Sione Toki. The video was published on his YouTube channel on Wednesday, 2 May 2018, and has already garnered more than 4,800 views. The song is available for streaming on Spotify and for download on iTunes.
Even though James says that he is not a rapper, his God-given talents continue to shine through in every music video that he produces. Beginning with his first video, shot in front of the Provo City Center Temple and including scenes from a few movies about Joseph Smith, where he was joined by his friend Jay Warren as he raps and sings about the Prophet Joseph Smith and his search for truth and how that can be applied to our lives today, to his latest release, he has been, and continues to be, a living testimony that talents were meant to be used and shared, not hidden.
His first full-length album titled We Came to Play was released on Wednesday, 2 May 2018, debuting in the #4 spot on the hip-hop charts. The album hit #9 internationally when it first released and surged to #4 overall on the day of release before dropping back to within the top 10.
James is not looking for monetary gain from the videos he produces. He just wants people to share the videos and the message, and that is exactly what is happening. James The Mormon has fast become a social media sensation on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Google+, and Instagram and the Mormon community is not the only ones taking notice of this phenomenal talent.
Proceeds from the pre-sale of his new album We Came to Play were donated to Operation Underground Railroad, an organization dedicated to rescuing child victims of human trafficking, all other proceeds following the release of his album will go toward the LDS Church Missionary Fund.
The story behind the moniker “James The Mormon” dates to James’ experience as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He told LDS Living:
The story behind the name “James The Mormon” is that I was 23 when I went out on my mission. I had lived a very worldly life up until a year before that point. For me, the transition before I went out on my mission was my own very personal Alma the Younger experience. I tangibly felt the Atonement and loved it and genuinely wanted to share that with everyone else. So, I dedicated the rest of my life to just sharing the gospel. Then I came back and, with very small effort, changed my social media to James The Mormon, hoping to be transparent and open about what I am and to potentially lead to some missionary experiences.
Speaking about the album We Came to Play, James commented, “Basically, [it’s just about] being with a bunch of musically talented friends—a lot of them aren’t LDS; some of them are LDS. It’s about, “Hey, there’s this little hip-hop scene and music scene here in Utah, and a lot of us are LDS, and we came to play in the same game as everyone else.”
In a 2015 interview with Mormon Hub, James said, “My goal is that people will associate me with the Church and it will open a door. ‘That dude is rapping, and I like it and he’s Mormon… wait, and he’s Black?’”
James also says that the best piece of advice that he has ever received is, “No matter what you do or say, you’re going to offend somebody. So, don’t worry about it.”
Music in the Key of Life: JTM Opens Up About Being Abused as a Child in New Music Video
On 9 September 2018, JTM (formerly known as James The Mormon), released what is perhaps his most vulnerable music video to date. The video called “I Could Be Wrong,” is a depiction of his own abuse as a child. JTM says in the video description, “The first 17 years of...