Nessa Morgan

Nessa Morgan

BandR&BBlues

Dirty real life is at the heart of my album "Sex & Poverty". The album is great and then with the live show, we try to dirty it up. It's like I'm telling my story. There's no fancy lights, no flashy dance moves, no flashy outfits. Just the guys behind me and me singing my guts out.

Biography


“Emotional sincerity that goes straight to the heart.”
MARIE CLAIRE

“She’s Australia’s answer to every sultry soul singer the US has produced. Her voice, her grooves, her style, her attitude - this woman is going to stun the country, and probably the rest of the world as well...”
THE HERALD SUN

It takes one to know one. When US soul star Alicia Keys toured Australia in October 2004, Alicia, her band, crew and management were in the wings watching Nessa Morgan tear up the support slot every night. They liked what they saw – a raw soul singer with real songs and a real band – and they all demanded a signed copy of Nessa’s critically acclaimed debut album, Sex & Poverty, to take home to the States.

“At first they thought I was American. Alicia didn’t even know what a Maori was,” says 27-year-old Nessa, a New Zealand-born singer-songwriter. “So I gave her a DVD of [the Academy Award-nominated] Whale Rider. Half an hour later, Alicia was watching it in her dressing room.”

Nessa Morgan has been making an impression on a lot of people lately. Michael Franti & Spearhead’s drummer, Dave Shul, so loved her show when he saw her at the 2005 Melbourne International Music Festival, he offered to be her guitarist for the East Coast Blues & Roots Festival at Byron Bay this year.

She was also the first Australian act to be invited to play the prestigious Bluesfest sideshow at Byron’s famous Beach Hotel. She packed the place. “It was such a great festival. George Clinton was standing side of stage shouting ‘Go Off Girl!’,” recalls Nessa. “I saw Bo Diddley and John Lee Hooker Jr … Man, they are naughty old dudes! I am learning from the best!”

Nessa Morgan began writing songs at 24 years old, sometimes writing as many as one song a day. Influenced by Lauren Hill, Anita Baker, Al Green, Bob Marley and Nina Simone, she developed a cool, soulful story-telling style. “I believe in songs about every day life and struggles,” she says. “And I believe you have to sing them with heart and breathe the words out. If you don’t believe what I'm singing then I may as well pack my bags.”

Born into a Maori family in Wellington, New Zealand, Nessa moved to Australia when she was three years old. First stop was Sydney’s Kings Cross, where her musician father gigged with his funk band. The family then followed the work to Bondi before eventually settling in Newcastle, where Nessa and her two sisters and brother went to school. “We were like gypsies,” Nessa says. “My father’s funk band was way ahead of its time so it was hard for them. We just went wherever the work was.”

The muso lifestyle sometimes forced the family to go without food. Nessa and her siblings even resorted to spearfishing for crabs on the Newcastle beaches for dinner. They moved house when they couldn’t pay the rent. “We even got kicked out of a caravan park, you can’t get much lower than that,” she remembers. “We had nothing. We had the clothes on our back and Dad had a saxophone. But as kids, we didn't know any different.”

At 14, Nessa’s careers teacher took one look at her Mohawk hairstyle and predicted a bleak future for her. “She told me I was going to be nothing,” says Nessa. “So I asked Dad to teach me to be a singer. He said it would be really hard and he was right.”

Soon the 15-year-old was practising her vocals every day and performing in her parents’ trio, Arkestra, seven-nights-a-week on a cruise liner. “Mum did backing vocals and I shared lead vocals with my Dad. He told me to sing with my emotions. I was trying to sing like a woman. People said I sounded like I had my heart broken but I was only 15.”

In 2002, Nessa started writing her own songs. “I was 24 and I thought I was too old to be an artist so I'll be a writer instead,” she says. “And I thought no one wants to see a Maori chick singing. Everyone wants little blonde 14-year-old girls as artists. That’s what I honestly thought.”

In her pursuit to establish herself as a songwriter, Nessa started her own trio, gigged three nights a week and worked in a patisserie by day to earn enough money to demo her songs. She found a manager who encouraged her to write more (over 100 songs) and convinced her to be the performer as well as the songwriter and started taking her demos around to the record companies. "People were saying Australians can't do R&B as well as the Americans. They were saying we can't sell it to them. I say 'Bullshit! We can!"

Signed to BMG, Nessa flew to L.A. to record four songs with the legendary producer Don Was.

One of the most prolific and sought-after producers in the music industry, Was has worked with Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Paula Abdul, Willie Nelson, Carly Simon, Elton John, k.d. lang, the B-52s (“Love Shack”) and Roy Orbison. He’s collected four Grammys, including Album Of The Year for his work on Bonnie Raitt’s Nick Of Time. Nessa Morgan is the first Australian artist to have worked with him. “I didn't know who he was!” recalls Nessa

Lyrics

Will Be

Written By: Nessa Morgan/Jarrod Rogers/Daniel Merreweather

Chorus Things ain’t all they seem
Can’t believe that this thing happened to me
What will be will be
Cos you know that this thing happened to me.

Verse 1 One night stand
Two nights long
Takin’ over me
But not my soul
Thru the windows of my mind’s eye
Sit and reminisce as time goes by
Wishing I was somewhere else.

Chorus Things ain’t all they seem
Can’t believe that this thing happened to me
What will be will be
Cos you know that this thing’s happened to me.

Verse 2 Second night
Of this one night stand
Feel so comfortable
Baring his hand
As I listen to his stories of life
Realise he had a wife
Take me far away from here.

Repeat chorus Things ain’t all they seem
Can’t believe that this thing happened to me
What will be will be
Cos you know that this thing’s happened to me.

Verse 3 I must admit
I was turned on
But a voice inside
Told me it was wrong
What would you do in my place?

Chorus breakdown Things ain’t all they seem
(they ain’t)
Can’t believe that this thing happened to me
(But I was turned, turned on)
What will be will be
(By the fact that it was wrong, yeah yeah)
Can’t believe that this thing’s happened to me.

BRIDGE Think of this
He wasn’t meant for me
He had a wife and family
But I ain’t down for that
So don’t hate on me, no no

It’s too ugly…hmmm…
He wanted me for a rendezvous
With his wife and boo, yeah
A little one on two
Or maybe three on four
Oh oh oh oh…

What would you do in my place?

Teach 'em Not to Hate, It's Not Too Late

Written By: Nessa Morgan/Rick Price

Who creates the monsters of the world?
Who plants the seeds of prejudice in boys and girls?
We do.
So quick to point the finger
Pass the blame
The way we persecute each other
Is a crying shame.
In the name of religion
In the name of faith
Then we teach it to our children
It’s a damn disgrace.

Chorus Why can’t we
Teach ‘em not to hate
It’s not too late

Verse 2 Who decides the fate of planet Earth?
And who decides the measure of our worth?
We do, yes we do.
So quick to pull the trigger
We die, we kill
Terrorise one another
Let evil take its fill
In the name of religion
In the name of faith
Then we teach it to our children
It’s a damn disgrace.

Chorus Why can’t we
Teach ‘em not to hate
It’s not too late

Bridge You hurt, I hurt
I feel your pain
We bleed the same
In the name of religion
In the name of faith
Let’s learn to love each other
Make a better place

Chorus Why can’t we
Teach ‘em not to hate
It’s not too late
Repeat Chorus Why can’t we
Teach ‘em not to hate
It’s not too late…

Make a better place.

Discography

Sex & Poverty - album
Nothing but Love - single
Simple Kinda Woman - single
Stuck Remix EP - single

Set List

Whole album. Any length from 45 minutes to 120 minutes.
Can include covers such as "Midnight Train to Georgia" and any old or new soul covers.