We had the good fortune of connecting with James Michael McLester and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi James Michael, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I was a highly motivated, driven Type A personality ramping up my professional music career and then after an unforeseen health diagnosis, I ventured into a startup Network that manufactured a Proprietary anti-aging Collagen /Aloe concentrate. The company rapidly expanded its market reach and revenue and I worked my way into the national Marketing Director position. My Network grew to 8,000 Nationwide and consisted of consumers, retailers, and professional clinics. I was burning the candle at both ends but overjoyed for the growth and compounded pay scale. Eventually, I learned from a world renown physician that my Kidney function was less than 15% and I was diagnosed with end stage renal disease, pulmonary edema, lymphedema, and Mercury toxicity at age 34. I was a trend setting, go-getter, in a six figure income bracket with a physiology quickly falling apart. Something had to give. I was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital in February of 2003 and spent 8 days on emergency kidney dialysis to remove 30 lbs of fluid and toxins from my body. I received 2 surgeries for my catheter and dialysis access and was bed ridden with a new diagnosis and no fast track to a kidney transplant. I had a life changing choice to make on February 14, 2003. I could use my drive and willpower to keep the golden embers of my livelihood burning and potentially burn out and die at age 34, or commit to a diligent regimen of rest, nutrition, and hemodialysis treatments three times a week. The dialysis machine will not remove mercury from your bloodstream so a part of me was asking myself “Why am I here?”, and “How did I get to this point.” I was overwhelmed and burnout facing a major hurdle at age 34. I inherently knew from background in Nutrition Science and Network of health professionals I worked with that proper sleep, hydration, diet and a moderate exercise were paramount and within my control. I put prayer at the top of my list and aligned my Spirit with a genuine surrender rooted in the wise words of Romans 8:28 the unknown would be a faith walk. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for almost 13 years I arose at 4:30 a.m. to make my prayerful journey to the Dialysis clinic where I spent 4 hours on the machine to do a fraction of the work my once normal kidneys could do. I followed protocol to the “T.” I know that my back story of being born into a USAF, & Naval Military family helped me choose wise behaviors and practice diligence. My family also imparted t he golden rule, but now I knew in my heart space that “Faith is the substance of things HOPED for (fill in your blank), and the evidence of things not yet seen.” I stayed the course and over time had all of my Silver, Mercury dental fillings removed by a biological dentist who replaced the dangerous metals with porcelain. I maintained a normal weight and program of supplements, minimal medications, and a sound eating plan. I also maintained a Joyful countenance through Worship, reading, authoring my Autobiography, & remaining HOPEFUL and steadfast in my Faith. During my health journey I made a living by teaching music lessons and performing live with many D/FW artists and church worship teams when the opportunity presented itself. I used this as a supplement to my Medicare and SSI income as I spent time resting and rebuilding. In June 2014, a long term friend reached out and asked how I was doing. We had not spoken in 23 years. I met her and her fiancée for dinner and I shared my story with her. She asked if she could be tested as a potential living kidney donor and she was a match. I had a few close calls with finding a living donor through family members but it never manifested. We traveled to the Texas Transplant Institute to be screened and thankfully we were scheduled for surgery in December of 2015. Our surgery was a success and after I learned my new life lesson, I also received a “New lease on Life” thanks to a loving friend and altruistic donor. After a recovery period that lasted 12 weeks, I was free from dialysis, I was able to pursue new ventures again and promote my book and work my way back into my professional music career and pursue my current position as a Nutritionist at the #1 Holistic pharmacy in Allen, TX. I am pursuing a Masters in Clinical Nutrition at Southwestern Naturopathic College in Tempe, AZ. I was married April 22, 2017 to my wife Kristen McLester and we reside in Allen, TX with our min-pin Doberman “Saylor MC the Ambassador of peace.” I also launched a new Sole Proprietorship Company “Syndicate-360 Music Entertainment productions that specialize in streaming Multi camera angles in HD for businesses and artists wanting to capture the essence of the Art and harness it into a sizzle reel. We also do live broadcasts that reach households around the world during the current season of Covid-19. HOPE is my favorite four letter word indeed.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My heart is a reflection of the hourglass etched in time. My story is one of Trail, faith, and above all Triumph. I have experimented with glow-in-the-dark drum kit, painting, pottery, Clay applications, digital media, and drum circles to enrich the vibration and Resonance in the room. It’s an amalgamation of grace. I’m very proud that in the time that was flat on my back left for dead, I authored my autobiography that has gone around the world and pierced hearts. I think most of us would all realize even on a human level, that when we went to six flags or Disneyland as children, it was waiting to get on the teacup or the mini mine train that made it worth the ride. The lesson learned is that the ultimate peak is found in surrender. I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I’d like them to find my story on Amazon kindle worldwide. If people are more of the direct relationship type, they can simply email me for more information about Help Hope Live, my autobiography, my robust music career, or my post as a professional nutritionist.
This updated edition of Wannabe Rock Star Who Finally Found the Rock tells the story of how a spiritually bankrupt musician, frustrated by near success, numbed by the effects of drugs and alcohol, and alienated from his family, finds love and redemption after many years of running in the shadows of the Dallas-Fort Worth hard rock music scene, beginning in the early 80s and continuing into the new millennium. Readers will get a behind-the-scenes peek into the life of an aspiring rock star, as McLester plays in such bands as Dirty Blonde, The Crossing and Solinger (sharing the stage with current Skid Row lead vocalist Johnny Solinger). Read as McLester’s bands open on some of the area’s biggest stages for such rock legends as Alice Cooper, Tesla, Cinderella, Vince Neil, Pantera and Scorpions. But a hard-rock lifestyle takes McLester on a wild journey that leaves him disillusioned and nearly dead. Wannabe Rock Star Who Finally Found the Rock penetrates the heart, as readers follow this talented young drummer with a calling on his life—a life catapulted into a quest for restoration of health, music, family and faith by what can only be understood as God’s just-in-time, supernatural intervention, saving McLester from a tragic end. Believers and nonbelievers alike will be inspired by the manifestation of hope that sustains McLester during his near-death experience and beyond, as he fights back against his disease, buoyed by God’s promise. The book relates how this same hope continues to propel McLester forward toward a cure and a newfound.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is like a loaded baked potato in light of COVID-19. Obviously, under the current executive order in the state of Texas some places are just off limits. I will say one of my favorite places to visit is the botanical gardens in Fort Worth, Texas. I also love what they have done with Sundance Square and the district of Eighth Street where the old Montgomery ward’s building used to be. I reflect on the days when my grandfather would roller skate from the top floor of that building to deliver people their packages. As a music aficionado you must include Deep Ellum, Oak Cliff, part of downtown Dallas near the Westin, and because of urban sprawl he would have to move through uptown and into the northern Corridor of the Dallas tollway and to the friendly Irish pub is located in Allen, and Fairview Texas. If you wanted to roll low-key, I would take them to where most of my paternal family resides in Granbury, Texas. I would set up a bed-and-breakfast near the water for a chilled out vibe. If I wanted to put the capital in Capitol, I would whisk them downtown to Austin to visit venue such as Austin 3Ten City Limits, Emo’s, and Antonia. This will be the ideal Saturday night. When we open our eyes the next day, we would be heading toward the oasis on the water which is a glorious view of the outskirts of Austin, Texas.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Troy Luccketta of “Song 4 Wellness”, “Troy Shows UP!”, & Drummer of the iconic Multi platinum Rock Band Tesla.
Yelp: James M’s profile on Yelp:
Other: James Michael McLester is the drummer for DSN MUSIC Recording Artist “Roaring Truth”, creator of the ministries Hearts on Fire, & most recently “AlabasterBox”. McLester is also a co-founder of Living Out Loud. McLester is a member of the Christian Drummers Hall of Fame,Buddy Magazine Texas Tornados (1996) MXD Best Hard Rock Original & Tribute Drummer 2016-2018, & as appeared in Modern Drummer Magazine,Metal Edge Magazine,RIP Magazine, Rock This,EDGE, Embolden, Rise up Eight, DFWIMAGES, Heaven’s Metal & Balz Magazine. James has been interviewed on Many National and International Radio Syndicates including I Heart Media on December 27,2017 with Anna de Haro & Help Hope Live Campaign Manager Emily Hope James has a passion for reaching the lost and sharing his testimony. James’ love for music has grown into a powerful outreach and witness. James partnered with help Hope live from Radnor, Pennsylvania in May of 2014 to raise resources needed as a self-employed musician to cover the expenses of a kidney transplant that Medicare would not covered under the end stage renal disease guidelines. James has partnered with such corporate entities as Hard Rock Cafe, House of Blues, Gas Monkey Dallas, Chick-fil-A, Broncos sports bar and grill, Stan’s Lakeview Drafthouse,& Waterchase Golf Course to host Help Hope Live events. Described as a “powerful force” by DJ Drue Mitchell (JCTV/Manafest) and as having ”reached the pinnacle of his dream to be a rock star” by pastor Bill Bishop, James McLester is the embodiment of what can happen when persistence, hope and faith combine to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Former fellow Solinger band member Johnny Solinger, now lead vocalist for Skid Row, said of James, “Jamie is a superb drummer, but he also wrote meaningful lyrics and contributed greatly with melodies and structure to many of Solinger’s tunes.” Dawn Henderson, 89.7 PowerFM program director, writes that “James McLester is one of the most passionate people I know in the music industry. He is definitely a force to be reckoned with. His mind is clearly focused and his heart is God-centered.”
DFWIMAGES, David Long, Chad Fenner