James Robert "J. R." Byrd was welcomed home into the light and love of our Holy One on Friday, October 20, 2017 after a courageous battle with colon cancer. He was 36 years old.

JR was born in a suburb of Seattle, Washington, where he spent his formative preschool years. At the age of five his family moved to Littleton, CO, where he was known as "Robby Byrd." His musical interest was sparked first by his maternal grandparents and he began his journey on the piano, dreaming of being the next Billy Joel. Learning the basics of guitar, bass, and saxophone, the boy known as J.R. recorded his first original compositions with his high school band, "Sneaky Petes." That passion for music took him to the University of North Texas where he received a Bachelor of Jazz Studies in 2003 and also completed post-graduate study hours in Jazz Arranging. As J.R. began getting involved in the Dallas cover band scene and his own original band, "By Starlight," his own sense of acoustic "funk-pop" began to emerge with his first album Step Into the Shade. After college, J.R. embarked on a career of performer, recording artist, composer, arranger and worship leader.

He served as contemporary worship leader at Flower Mound Methodist Church where his life was forever changed meeting the love of his life, Laura. They were married on February 14, 2014 in Denton, TX. He also previously served at Lighthouse Church in Fort Worth and Christ United Methodist Church in Plano. In his current position at First United Methodist Church of Denton, he and his wife served as Co-Worship Leaders for Mosaic Worship. Instrumentalists that played with him often commented that he was a musician's arranger, creating scores that challenged their skills and created a unique style all its own.

He is survived by his wife, Laura of Little Elm, his parents Mike and Genele Byrd of Boone, North Carolina, sister, Lisa O'Connor, her husband, Brian and nephew Avery of Huntsville, Alabama. Additional survivors are parents-in-law Larry and Carolyn Watson of Brenham, Texas, brother and sister-in-law, Will and Rachel Watson and niece Raelyne of Angleton, Texas. He also leaves behind his beloved dogs Lucy, Holly, Giraffe, Duncan and Batman.

A celebration honoring J.R.'s life and music will be held on October 30, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 201 S. Locust, Denton, Texas. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to FUMC (Friends of Music- Mosaic) Denton, TX.

"Rest in Peace, my love. Because of your beautiful music your memory will never die. You will live on in melody, in harmony, in song, and in my heart forever."