James Michael Bay (born 4 September 1990) is an English singer-songwriter and guitarist. In 2014, he released his single "Hold Back the River", which has been certified platinum, before releasing his debut studio album Chaos and the Calm (2015). The album went to number one in the UK and number 15 in the US. In February 2015, Bay received the Brit Awards "Critics' Choice" award. At the 2016 Brit Awards he received the award for Best British Male Solo Artist. Bay also received three nominations at the 2016 Grammy Awards, for Best New Artist, Best Rock Album, and Best Rock Song. In May 2018, he released his second studio album, Electric Light.
Bay's parents brought him up in Hitchin, Hertfordshire where he attended Hitchin Boys' School. Aged 11, Bay was inspired to play classical guitar after hearing Eric Clapton's "Layla". and he used an old rusty guitar with five strings he found in a cupboard in his house. When he moved to study in Brighton at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute seven years later at age 18 he gained a greater education from playing the city's open mic nights, on which he said, "That taught me a lot about writing and performing on my own and trying to hold my own". "I'm trying to make songs that make people feel something, and if I'm lucky, even move them". Bay caught the attention of Republic Records A&R after a fan uploaded a video to YouTube of him performing at an open mic in London, and within a week, he signed to the label. His first EP, The Dark of the Morning, was released in 2013. Within a year, he was selling out his first UK headline tour.