Growing up in England, James Blunt had a "traditional" childhood, which essentially means he was shipped off to boarding school at age seven. He excelled in science and math at school, so it wasn't a surprise that his father pushed him along the path of a military career. But school wasn't all bad: Blunt learned how to play the piano there and even tried his hand at school plays. It would be too cliche to say that Blunt's love for music helped him fight off the career designs of his over-enthusiastic father. In fact, that would be both cliche and a lie. Blunt did join the military, and in 1999 he served as a peacekeeper in Kosovo. Armed with a gun and his guitar, James did his best to keep an even keel in a place that just experienced one of the bloodiest civil wars on record. Writing was an escape for the singer-songwriter, a way to process the horrors of what he was witnessing, as songs like "No Bravery" attest. When his military time was up, Blunt focused on making music his career, got a band together and recorded some demos. Within months he landed both a publishing deal and a manager. After his performance at 2003's SXSW, Blunt met producer Linda Perry (Pink, Christina Aguilera), who offered the singer a deal on her very own label, Custard Records. James Blunt's debut, Back to Bedlam, was released in the U.K. in January 2005 and in United States later that year, in July.