watch singer parson james return to his southern hometown

The emerging musician shares a first look at his new documentary, in which he goes back to his racially conflicted South Carolina hometown.

by Mathias Rosenzweig and i-D Staff
Jan 14 2016, 9:10pm

Cheraw, South Carolina is sometimes referred to as "The Prettiest Town in Dixie." With a population of under 6,000, it's unlikely you've ever heard it, or met someone who hails from there. That's set to change in 2016. This year will likely be monumental for rising singer-songwriter Parson James, whose collaboration with Kygo on the track "Stole the Show" has now reached over 65 million views on YouTube.

Born to a black father and white teenage mother in a racially troubled town, James was destined to face conflict even before he realized he was gay. When he escaped small-town life for New York, Parson found solace in creating music — and many have since found solace listening to it. He tackles issues of identity and guilt, encouraging listeners to embrace their differences. In his new documentary, premiering here, James revisits his roots in the South. He tells i-D:

"It's an incredibly confusing feeling to know wholeheartedly who you are and who you are meant to be but at the same time being told that by being that person (yourself), you are wrong. I could never wrap my head around it really, and I still can't.

I didn't want to make this documentary to bash the South, because I am glad I come from where I did. It's taught me so much and allowed me to grow into the person that I always knew I was capable of being. I just wanted to highlight what I have always known. You can't change people; it's exhausting and simply will not work. This documentary is meant to show that we are all different creatures, and that is a beautiful thing. No one is perfect, and judging another person isn't going to fix any flaws within yourself. We're all 'sinners,' and until we can accept that and live in unity embracing our differences, this world is gonna remain a sad and fucked up place."

The documentary features James' track "Waiting Game." "I wrote the song when I was at one of the lowest points of my life and career," he says. "I knew that things could get way worse, but they also could get better. And they did."


READ more about Parson's story on Noisey


Text Mathais Rosenzweig
Image courtesy Koury Angelo

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