In the early 1990s, after joining Bobby Caldwell's band, James caught the attention of the engineer and producer Paul Brown. In 1992 he released his debut album as a leader, Trust, on the independent record label Spindletop Records. Following the record's success, James was signed by the Warner Brothers label in 1994. He released the RIAA Certified Gold Records, Seduction, Sweet Thing and Body Language on Warner Brothers.
In 2000 he collaborated with trumpeter Rick Braun on an album called Shake it Up. Their duets include the now classic updated version of Hugh Masakela's "Grazin' in the Grass". Other artists who have made guest appearances on Boney's records include Raheem DeVaughn, Faith Evans, George Benson, George Duke, Dwele, Al Jarreau, Philip Bailey, Anthony Hamilton, Jaheim, Eric Benét, Dave Hollister and Angie Stone. James assumed the role of producer starting with his Pure album in 2003. Following a string of chart-topping albums, in 2006 James moved to Concord Records and with the release of Shine achieved his career highest Billboard Pop Chart position (No. 44 on the Top 200). His 2009 album, Send One Your Love earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance. James' 2013 album The Beat received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album.
On May 15, 2010, James was involved in a car crash coming home from a performance when he was rear ended by a drunk driver. James suffered a fractured jaw, two shattered teeth and facial lacerations. He was sidelined for 2 months.
He is married to actress and director Lily Mariye. In 2012 he contributed an original score to her feature film directorial debut, Model Minority
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