James Holland began his cello studies at age 9 in his hometown of Pensacola, FL. He earned degrees in cello performance from the University of Alabama and the Eastman School of Music, after which he became a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. In 1996, James was appointed Principal Cellist of the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for 11 years. In 2007, James and his wife, violinist Megan Holland, relocated to Albuquerque, NM. In 2013, James became president and artistic director of Albuquerque Chamber Soloists.

As a chamber musician, he has performed with Chatter, the Placitas Artists Series, the Taos Chamber Music Series, and Chamber Music Amarillo, among others. James has been a member of the Santa Fe Symphony since 2007. He is also Principal Cellist of Santa Fe Pro Musica and a member of the SFPM Baroque Ensemble. Since 1998, James has been Principal Cellist of the Breckenridge Music Festival. His recording activities include an award-winning live concert recording of the music of Duke Ellington with jazz legends Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway, and a recording for Smithsonian Folkways with the oud virtuoso Rahim AlHaj. James also maintains a large and active private cello teaching studio and directs orchestras at The Montessori Elementary and Middle School.