Rising Star Rises Above the Odds

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New Orleans is known as the birthplace of famous singers like Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson and Harry Connick Jr.  But could a 13 year old from New Orleans be the next big thing?  Local Grammy winning musician Bill Summers thinks so!  He’s becoming the teenager’s mentor.  Dr. Rachel tells us about Craig James, a teen who’s overcoming the odds through the power of song.

13 year old Craig James is like any other teenage boy.  He’s either glued to his phone, or playing a video game, and doesn’t always feel like going to school.

“I might call in sick,” says Craig.

Craig’s mother, Adeline Michel says, “Sometimes a teenager wants to have their own little attitude.”

But attitude can be a good thing when you’re an aspiring singer.

Dr. Rachel: “Do you write your own songs?”

Craig: “Yea.”

Dr. Rachel: “What do you write about?”

Craig: “Girls.”

And boy can he sing!

Craig sings: “Your style your hair your dress.  The way you make me laugh, I like the way you talk, can you be my baby, baby girl.”

Dr. Rachel:  Oh that’s so sweet!  That was awesome.”

“Him and grandmother always used to sing together after they came home from church (laughs)  they used to come home and sing,” says Michel.

A couple of years ago, radio DJ Wild Wayne was blown away watching Craig sing at his junior high school talent show.  A clip of Craig’s performance caught the attention of legendary New Orleans musician Bill Summers.

“This little kid opens his mouth up.  That’s it.  That’s all it was to it.  All I needed was two seconds.  It doesn’t take very long,” says Summers.

So Bill took Craig under his wing and started coaching and mentoring the teen in his studio.  Practice makes perfect and that requires some long hours in a recording session.  But Craig’s moments in the studio are an escape.

“I don’t want to be like this the rest of my life.  I want to see a difference, a change,” says Craig.

You wouldn’t notice it right away but Craig has a mild condition called Cerebral Palsy that affects his legs.

“He kept falling, kept stumbling.  Every time he would take a step, he’d fall,” says Michel.

Diagnosed as a toddler, Craig has endured years of medical treatments including Botox injections to relax his muscles.

“We did therapy and all kinds of different trial and error tests,” says Michel.

But through it all, he’s never fallen to his condition.

“Your legs don’t slow you down.  It’s you,” says Craig.

“God took special time to make him.  It’s not like there’s anything wrong with him because obviously we’re taking care of him.  What’s wrong with him?  Nothing,” says Summers.

“Majority of his friends are taller than him but he blames me for being short ,” says Michel.

“Kids have dreams.  Everybody to me is born knowing what they’re supposed to do,” says Summers.

When you hear Craig’s golden voice, it’s clear, there’s nothing more beautiful in life than a song from the heart.

Craig sings, “I’ll make love to you, like you want me to, and I will not let go until you tell me to.”

Craig hopes to have surgery sometime over the summer to make it easier to live with Cerebral Palsy.  Bill Summers is working with Craig on his first single which should be out soon.