Dr. James Polk was born into a musical family and grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas. He excelled in all music classes in Elementary, Junior and Senior High School. James moved to Austin, Texas to attend Huston-Tillotson College where he graduated in 1962 with a B.A. Degree in Music Education. He was Band Director in Elgin, Texas following graduation from Huston-Tillotson and later moved to Massachusetts to work at the Rodman Job Corp as Entertainment Director. He returned to Austin to work for IBM as a Buyer in Production Purchasing where he stayed for ten years. He left IBM to join the Ray Charles Orchestra in 1978 as organist, pianist and later writer, arranger and conductor. James moved back to Austin in 1988 after living in Los Angeles for ten years. He went back to college and received his Master of Music Degree at Southwest Texas State University '91. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Huston-Tillotson College '95. Dr. Polk retired in 2006 as Professor Emeritus of Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.