James Waters was born in 1930 in Kyoto, Japan, of American parents. He earned bachelors and masters degrees from Westminster Choir College and the Ph.D. in composition from the Eastman School of Music. He taught at Westminster from 1957 to 1968, and at Kent State University since then. His works are published by G. Schirmer, Carl Fischer, Galaxy, and Ludwig. He is an accomplished pianist, and a past President of the Composers' Guild. His works have been performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Aolian Chamber Players, and the Robert Page Singers.