PROVO What do Alicia Keys, Diana Ross and Shauna Valentine have in common?
They all went to the Grammys but Valentine was there to support her son.
Invited as a "date," the Highland resident attended the swanky awards ceremony in February to support James Valentine, her 26-year-old son and guitarist in the band Maroon 5, which won Best New Artist.
"I met Jessica Simpson's father," Shauna Valentine said with a laugh. "I was not the only parent there."
Shauna Valentine and her husband Robert lead quiet lives as a Brigham Young University administrator and professor, respectively. But now they're parents to a family-practice doctor, a homemaker, a sports therapist and a rock star.
Although the brushes with fame are new, the Valentines said they've always known their son would go somewhere with music. "Music was always his love," Shauna said. "That's what got him where he is today."
James grew up going from piano lessons to drum lessons to guitar lessons. He was inspired by his older brother Christopher, who jammed with his own band as James watched from the basement stairs. James said he also listened to Christopher's tapes, drawing inspiration from Pink Floyd and Rush.
After getting his first guitar at age 13 and passing through a Nirvana/Pearl Jam/grunge phase in junior high school, James said his later teen years were spent listening almost exclusively to instrumental jazz music. Because of his love of jazz and his constant practicing, he was even invited to play in the University of Nebraska Jazz Ensemble while he was still in high school.
"As I got older, more people told me that I was pretty good," James said by phone while backstage before a performance at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.
While his family encouraged him, they still talked about the impracticality of a music career. But after winning a national battle of the bands competition in Los Angeles in 2000, James decided to give the musician's life a chance.
While there, he met up with four native Angelenos in a band called Kara's Flowers. When James joined as the guitarist, the group switched names to the now-famous Maroon 5. Soon, music mogul Clive Davis would help get them on their feet. "I'm convinced that Clive Davis watched these guys to see if they were goof-offs, druggies, womanizers," said Robert Valentine. "He wasn't going to invest in a bunch of nincompoops." Shauna added, "They're all serious musicians."
The investment has certainly paid off. Maroon 5's 2002 album "Songs About Jane" has gone platinum three times, with four of the songs "Harder to Breathe," "This Love," "She Will Be Loved" and "Sunday Morning" becoming hit singles.
Now, the road to fame seems smooth, but looking back, Robert said he remembers when James and the Maroon 5 guys lead vocalist Adam Levine, keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, bass player Mickey Madden and drummer Ryan Dusick were driving around in an old Ford van with the seat removed and a mattress on the floor. He said they each took turns driving and sleeping and loaded up their own equipment into the U-Haul they towed behind the van.
Thanks to increased popularity and funds Maroon 5 now has three buses, a few semi-trailer trucks, and a personal trainer, chef and stylist. Robert Valentine says the added personnel helps the band members stay grounded, as they try to stay in shape and eat well often a difficult task for traveling musicians.
Maroon 5 is in the middle of the Honda Civic Tour 2005, weaving through Canada and the United States before heading to Denmark, Germany and Paris in June.
Like a typical mother, Shauna Valentine frequently checks in via phone to see how her son is doing. "I asked him if (he was) getting sick of it. He said, 'No, our numbers are so big we get out there and it just energizes us.' "
While James Valentine is traveling the country, his mom and dad are in Highland, their new home since July 2005, after moving from Lincoln, Neb., where James grew up.
When he comes home, James is sure to visit with the nieces and nephews, says Provoan Lisa Valentine, James's older sister. The band even lets her four children dance around during sound checks. "My kids just love to climb all over him," she said, adding that fame hasn't changed him. "He's the same James he's always been. A really down-to-earth guy."
So, for now, the family will keep listening for Uncle James' music on the radio.
Ask about favorites, and Robert Valentine says "Sunday Morning." It reminds him of New York.
Shauna Valentine is partial to "Tangled," because she got to hear the band work on it in the recording studio.
Although James says his favorite song changes frequently, he loves playing "This Love." "It's weird. We've been playing these same songs for so long, (but we) keep finding new ways to make them a little better."