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Teacher - Arranger - Musical Director - Pianist

At the age of 10 James’ family was given an old upright piano. That moment was a genesis for decades of music-making. Though he spent countless self-taught hours as a child playing by ear, James observed and studied with the musicians at church. Within two years he regularly played for church services with a congregation of 2000.

Pianist James Cebatien Gold Coast Chicago 2011 This experience in Gospel music led to writing and arranging as well as television, radio, and recording opportunities. Winning state and regional competitions, he also gave concerts in surrounding states and Canada.

In 1966 he won first place in the piano competition for Talent Contest for Teenage America. A year ‘on the road’ came after, and while playing the Central United States, Ireland and Canada, a burning desire to learn and grow resulted in continued studies.

He was accepted into the Indiana University School of Music. With determination, hard work, and great teachers he won several scholarships and excellence of music awards, graduating with honors.

From college onward, James amassed an incredibly broad range of musical experience. He was musical director for shows, performed in nightclubs, concerts and contributed to more than fifty albums.

Moving to Chicago he began a career as a piano teacher and he taught at Paul Renard’s Music Dynamics, a program learning approach to keyboard sight-reading. He continued to arrange and accompany singers, including Denise Tomasello and eventually added a solo act to his repertoire.

All of this led to job as pianist at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago that lasted nearly sixteen years. In that venue he performed for countless celebrities and famous politicians, sports figures, film stars and business giants. During that time he recorded four albums of solo piano music.