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Faith leads injured musician down new path

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POSTED: December 27, 2007 5:02 a.m.
James Cannon was a typical ninth grader who was out riding his bicycle with a group of friends that fateful summer day. One moment he was riding his bike, the next he was laying paralyzed in the grass beside the highway.
“On June 21, 1981, I was riding my 10-speed bike on Highway 17 towards Midway along with two friends and a cousin. I looked back and saw an 18-wheeler coming toward us on the wrong side of the road. As I attempted to get out of the way, the truck almost hit me. The bike flipped over, and I broke me neck,” Cannon recalled.
After the incident, Cannon spent one year in the hospital recuperating. He also spent time at the vocational rehabilitation school in Warms Springs and eventually received a GED from the Adult Education Center in Brunswick at age 27.
Although he is a quadriplegic and wheelchair bound, he does not allow his paralysis to hinder him from doing what he loves to do. He enjoys playing the keyboard, recording and singing.  
“Because of the nerve damage in my hand, I play with the side of my hand. Steve Wonder did not let his blindness to stop him,” Cannon said.
He has been playing musical instruments since the age of 9.  
In 1984, Cannon got his first keyboard and had his first engagement at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Athens. A consummate musician and singer, Cannon can be found playing the keyboard in various churches in the community.
“I really didn’t want to play the keyboard, but I have adapted. My first love was the electric guitar. I learned to play the guitar from my father,” he said. “Sometimes when I am playing the keyboard, I think I am playing the guitar.”
Cannon recorded a CD entitled, “Get Yourself in the Water.” The CD has 11 tracks and took about one year to produce. Some of the songs from the CD include, “The Family of God,” “Where Did Love Go,” “Lord, You Gave Your Life for Me,” “Sunday Morning,” “Make a Change” and “Walk with Me.”
“I write songs based on different things I see. It’s the little, simple things in life,” he said.
Cannon said he learned to sing from his mother’s side of the family. He also teaches keyboard lessons.
He has produced music for many local recording artists, such as Camia Brown and Pastor Shirley Wingate of Hinesville; Elder Norman Wiley and Prophet Lester Harris of Brunswick; the Wings of Faith and the Spiritual Angels of Riceboro, and Henry Baggs.
He also produced a “demo” CD for Christopher Walcott of Midway.
“My dream is to one day have my own studio,” he said.
Cannon is a member of the Philadelphia Church of Christ in Brunswick where Walter Ross is the pastor. He serves as the minister of music.
His nephew, DezMond Murray, drives him to various engagements. He says his parents, Leroy Cannon of Riceboro and Jacqueline Edwards of Brunswick, and his pastor have been a source of encouragement to him.
“I take every little thing and enjoy it. I see things from a different perspective. I was never one to say, “Why me? I roll on with it because I know God is in control and I have a lot of faith.”  
Cannon said he is “Okay.”
He is currently working on another CD.
 

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