Years before ditching a career as a paramedic to join The Voice‘s ninth season, James Dupré grew up in central Louisiana, listening to his parents’ Randy Travis records.
“I remember having ‘1982’ stuck in my head for an entire summer,” he tells Rolling Stone Country, “not really understanding what that song was even about but being captivated by it, anyway.”
When adolescence turned his voice into a rich, rumbling baritone, Dupré began taking his own stab at some of Travis’ hits. In the clip above, he sings the late-Eighties classic “Promise,” staying faithful to the song’s stripped-down, acoustic arrangement. Premiering today, the song coincides with the release of “Stoned to Death,” the title track from Dupré’s new album of country originals.
“I believe there is — and will always be — some influence in country music that stems from the traditional sounds,” says the Nashville transplant, whose songs straddle the border between old-school influences and contemporary trends. “I do think that we’ve gotten more away from it in recent years than we’ve ever had before, but I still believe it will never truly disappear, especially when I hear new artists such as William Michael Morgan and Maren Morris.”
Dupré’s “Stoned to Death” arrives just a few weeks before another big debut: his first film. He stars in The Price as an aspiring country singer who learns a big family secret: “The country star who he has been a longtime fan of is actually his father,” the singer-actor explains. “It was a great character to play and get to know, having to really put myself in that position of discovering the truth and learning to forgive.”
The actor who plays his biological father? None other than Randy Travis.
“It was a dream come true,” Dupré says of working with the country music legend. “I remember the first day he showed up on set, I was really excited to meet him and unsure what to expect. Before I even had a chance to worry, he came up to me and shook my hand, pulled out his guitar and said he wanted to show me a new song he’d written. I couldn’t believe it! So we jammed out for a bit, then went to work.
“He’s such a great person and his commitment to both acting and singing inspires me,” he continues. “Throughout the shooting of the film, he showed me tips and made our scenes easier for me because he made it so believable.”