Shawn James started his career working in music studios as a sound engineer. In 2012, he and his wife Michelle moved from Nashville, Tennessee to Fayetteville, Arkansas to pursue a career in music industry full time. In the beginning, Shawn James was busking around downtown Fayetteville. From there, he started playing in local venues and recording his own songs in a bedroom studio.
The same year he also released his first self-published album Shadows. In 2013, he formed a band called Shawn James & The Shapeshifters with local musicians. After that he has released three more solo albums, a live album, and three albums with The Shapeshifters. He also runs his own recording company Shawn James Music.