Skip to main content

A Novel Idea!: Before the Spotlight

Before the Spotlight

 = One & Done

Review by Laura T.

This book is a must read for anyone who has ever struggled reaching their goals, especially those who are trying to make it big in the music industry. I first came across this book when I saw Kenny James perform on a cruise I was on in 2017. My family and I loved his songs and he seemed like a great person when we were talking with him after the show. His book starts from the beginning of his life, how his parents owned a restaurant and he would always listen to songs around the Jukebox. He grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut and dreamed of one day becoming a star since he loved to sing and listen to popular artists. When he was 15, he joined his first band and played at many local nightclubs. Then, when he was in his early twenties, he took a leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles, California, by himself because he was on this mission to become a star. The remainder of the book discusses all the obstacles he faced trying to get himself exposed in the music world and trying to get a record deal. Kenny played in countless nightclubs and restaurants in California and even performed at many private parties and weddings.

It was shocking to me that no record company or artist noticed his talent and helped him meet his goals since he performed in so many public places.

He met a lot of great people throughout his journey, including his friend Pete, who became his manager and in 1986, helped him get on the hit show Star Search. This show is like the American Idol that we all know today. On Star Search, Kenny won thirteen consecutive episodes and ended up winning the grand prize of $100,000 for Best Male Vocalist. You will have to read the book to find out if he ever did get a record deal, but I will tell you that he felt like a star after that show. He eventually got married and had a son, who is now grown and travels with Kenny on cruise lines around the world. While the grammar in this book is very poor due to many obvious editing mistakes, it is still a good read because Kenny’s determination is inspiring and he never gave up despite all the things life threw his way.


  • Length: 256 pages
  • Published by: Outskirts Press 
  • ISBN: 978-1478752400
  • Category:  Non-Fiction