At an early age Jacobus Bernardus van der Walt, aka Bernardt James, demonstrated exceptional musical ability and chose the piano as his creative medium. With the guidance of his music teacher Marietjie Steyn, Bernardt was able to quickly develop his talent and soon began writing his own music. He would go on to use his compositions in local talent competitions as well as for examinations.
As Bernardt matured as a musician he was influenced by many artists including the following: Sting , David Foster, Yann Tiersen and Yanni. Bernardt has appeared on the televised talent shows Crescendo (ATKV) and Geraas. A number of his compositions have also aired on local radio stations. Between 2003 and 2005 Bernardt performed at The Palace of the Lost City (Sun City) as the resident pianist. While there he performed daily at The Crystal Court and Villa del Palazzo.
More recently Bernardt has performed predominantly in Johannesburg at venues including: The Residence, Sandton Convention Centre, The Grace Hotel, Michelangelo's, Gold Reef City, Sandton Sun, The Hilton, Irene Lodge and The Maximilien (Sandton). Bernardt records and arranges all of his own music and has collaborated other artists.
He continues to work on his original music while performing as a solo pianist. Since 2012 he recorded 6 albums: The last 5 mostly original compositions. His latest album "Pensato" was released in April 2019.