PJ Morton
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PJ Morton

| INDIE | AFM

| INDIE | AFM
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Aug
03
PJ Morton @ The Cutting Room

New York, NY

New York, NY

Aug
02
PJ Morton @ Middle East Upstairs

Cambridge, MA

Cambridge, MA

Dec
15
PJ Morton @ Private Event/Higher Dimensions

Houston, Texas, USA

Houston, Texas, USA

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Music

Press


Genetics can take you only so far, and talent and hard work takes you to the next step. That's the story of P.J. Morton, a talented newcomer to Soul Music with a legendary Gospel name. P.J. is the 23 year old son of Gospel legend Bishop Paul S. Morton, but he is fashioning his own fledgling career beyond the boundaries of Gospel, mixing elements of folk, jazz and soul into his unique, engaging music.

The New Orleans native describes his music as “feel good music that lyrically tells stories about life and love…music that makes your heart think.” He started as a child singing in church and became a solid pianist by the time he was an early teen, when he began writing in earnest. He was influenced by the church music of his father, but also by such disparate acts as Stevie Wonder, Sting, Prince and James Taylor.

By his early 20s Morton was a music veteran and was writing songs for Men of Standard, Darwin Hobbs and India.Arie, and toured with Erykah Badu. He also formed the jazz band Freestyle Nation.
In early 2005, Morton independently released his debut album, Emotions.

Review of Emotions

Wow. First, I have to thank my friend Grant Jenkins of Kirk Franklin’s Fo Yo Soul Entertainment organization for turning me on to P.J. Morton and this quietly released independent CD. Now on to the music. There’s a line in the movie Jerry Maguire that goes “You had me from ‘hello’.” Well, PJ Morton had me from the first bar of “Jiberish,” the album’s second cut, and he kept me spellbound for the remainder of his impressive debut album, Emotions.

In some ways, the formula behind an album like Emotions sounds deceptively simple. Bring together a crop of melodic, soulful cuts, keep relatively restrained arrangements with a guitar and piano/organ foundation, and focus on a quality lead singer with strong phrasing. But try to find a male soul singer in the past year who has done it as well as P.J. Morton does on Emotions. In fact, only Gordon Chambers’ great debut album has come close.

Typically, an album reviewer focuses on a handful of both the strongest and weakest songs, particularly if they tell a bigger picture about the disc. The fact is, Emotions is all highlights -- there simply isn’t a bad moment on the disc. Morton claims artists from Donny Hathaway to Al Green (whose voice Morton’s resembles) to James Taylor as influences. However, the biggest influence on Emotions is Stevie Wonder. His echoes can be heard on such cuts as “I Need to Know,” the ballad “Inside Your Heart” and “Fly Away,” the latter being one of the best urban adult contemporary cuts you’ll hear this year. Which brings me back to “Jiborish.” Along with “Today,” it is the kind of memorable acoustic soul song that folks expected but rarely received from Babyface or Tony Rich. The rest of the album covers a spectrum of sounds effectively, from the contemporary spiritual “Good Days Bad Days” to the power rock ballad “I Need You” to the Gospel cut “Heavenly Father,” each compelling in its own way.

Impressively, Emotions bears none of the normal shortcomings of independent soul releases, which, for budgetary reasons, often rely on an overabundance of synthesizers to make up the lack of real instruments. Instead, this disc uses simple but extremely effective arrangements behind its acoustic base, including well placed horns on “I Need to Know” and “No Ordinary Love,” a soulful organ on “Heavenly Father” and “Good Days Bad Days” and strings on “Jiberish” and “Inside Your Heart.”

To me, there is little that is more enjoyable than a great album coming out of left field, and we’re lucky if we hear a handful in a given year. Well, there is no bigger sleeper this year than Emotions. It is a truly great disc and an unexpected introduction to a young singer/songwriter who appears to have the whole package. And while an album like this would be welcomed by soul music fans anytime, during a time in popular music when it is more important to pimp and pose than make real music, it becomes that much more precious. It will be tough to find a better adult soul album in 2005. This is essential listening.
- Soul Tracks


In the 2005 music releases, there have been disturbingly more reasons to jeer than cheer. With sophomore projects sounding less like Kanye and more like Bootay. It seems that even our tried and true artists have been prone to release the tepid and lackluster. Record label marketing cops have cleared the doo wop corners, leaving fewer pure quality suppliers able to feed our musical fix, damning us all to a state of melodic withdrawal.

For me, opening a new CD these days has begun to feel like a scratch ticket for the lottery, you just know it’s a loser but something in you keeps buying that cut-rate junk and praying for that miraculous first-time high. PJ Morton’s debut project Emotions is such a miracle. The impression of his clean lyrics and gentle sound holds the promise of such a high.

PJ has provided one of those brilliantly refreshing moments in independent soul music where the best of acoustic soul, smooth jazz, and the throwback jersey of That this angelic fix has come from a typical source that managed to achieve a sound both atypical and deliciously unpredictable makes PJ’s project all the more endearing. Like Donnie, Jamie Hawkins and Shannon Saunders before him, PJ is another independent brother with soul star dreams following the pied piper parade of preacher kids out of the pulpit and into the secular, hard-knocks life of musicians peddling CDs, hustling one-nighters, and fighting to be heard by an industry deafened by payola.

As the son of New Orleans’s legendary pastor and recording gospel artist, Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr., PJ had the option of an easier road with familiar rewards. Instead, as you will hear, he has chosen to sacrifice for a different kind of music ministry with a less tangible bounty. The benefits of his chosen path were made clearer after Hurricane Katrina ravaged his family’s New Orleans home, church, and community.

In the wake of such staggering financial loss and emotional devastation, the man who began playing piano as an eight-year-old prodigy was reminded of an enduring truth: everything you need in life you already possess within you. And so, PJ, reminded of the purpose and the meaning of his sacred gifts, is moving past the wreckage of Katrina and crossing this land with a mission not terribly different from his father’s; to nourish our starving souls with his healing love poems of melody and music.

Introducing, PJ Morton…

Chart PJ Morton's musical journey for me.

I found a Stevie Wonder tape and after that I started to buy everything
that said Stevie Wonder on the cover. Stevie was the person who really
made me want to write. I never really wanted to be a singer, but the
songs I started to write I felt no one could really sing them because they
were different from the current style of music.
So, I started to sing my own songs and eventually became an artist.

Did being the son of a living gospel legend living, Bishop Paul
Morton, inspire you to seek a career as a recording artist?

Not really. I never looked at my father as a recording artist. To me, he
was always just a pastor that could sing. He definitely influenced my
love of music.

On a scale on 1 to10, how supportive is your father of your music?

12! He encourages me every chance he gets.

At first blush, your music doesn't have the sound of someone
whose craft was honed in the church. Yet, there is a purity to
some of your work that reflects the undertones of sacred music.
Do you feel that gospel music has shaped the PJ Morton sound?

No, not gospel music, but having a relationship with God has lyrically
shaped my music. Musically, I think growing up singing and playing in
church has shaped my sound.

Given your church roots and pastoral lineage, why did you choose
secular music over gospel?

It kind of chose me. When I chose to be an artist and started to write,
these are the songs that came out. I also think my feelings about gospel
played a role. To me, gospel has lost its focus a little, in the sense that it
is marketed to church and not to the people who need it the most
outside of the church.

The internal and external struggle of the secular versus the
religious is among the well-charted challenges faced by church-
reared, black male soul artists-from Ray Charles and Sam Cooke
to Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye-has your experience
mirrored theirs?

I think it has mirrored those. And I think it’s because God doesn't
change and neither have many people. Since the beginning of time,
people have been trying to put God in a box. People are where the
pressure comes from. I think a lot of times "secular" artists from the
church go to an extreme because they are hurt and not supported by
where they come from. Ray Charles and Sam Cooke were led another
way and still felt they had a relationship with God, people still criticized
them. I just choose not be angry and go to an extreme.

Do you think that the blac - L Michael Gipson


Discography

PJ MORTON – producer, writer, musician, vocal arranger, musical director

Collaborations include those with:

w/ Men Of Standard,
"Don't lose your"
on:Feels like Rain

"Fight On"
on:New Day

w/ India.Arie,
"Interested"
on:Voyage to India

w/ Bishop Paul S. Morton,
"I Resign"
on: Crescent City Fire

w/ Greater St.,
"Let Him In"
on:As For Me And My House

w/ William Murphy,
"I Don't Know Why"
on: All Day Changes

w/ Ted and Sheri,
"How Much You"
on:Celebrate

w/Compilation,
"Mean To Me"
"Turn It Around"
"Fall In The Midst"
on: Gospel Heritage

w/Freestyle Nation,
"Why Do I Do,"
"Rain,"
"How we were,"
"Emotions in Disguies,"
"Forever,"
"Real Love,"
"Grass Just Looks Greener,"
"Why Can't I Talk About Love,"
"Keep Movin On,"
"Free,"
"Back In Time,"
"Common Ground"
on: Freeversation

Album: PJ Morton ... Emotions

"So Amazing" w/ Jagged Edge -- Forthcoming Album
"Stand" w/ Monica -- Forthcoming Album
"Tonight" w/ Jonhta Austin -- Forthcoming Album

In the studio with:

Jermaine Dupri
Monica
Ron Isley/The Isley Brothers
Jagged Edge
Johnta Austin
India.Aire

Touring musician with:

Fred Hammond – Music Director
Erykah Badu
Jermaine Dupri
Megafest – Music Director

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

PJ Morton aka "THE FLY NERD" making music again..

A native of New Orleans, LA, most often describes his music as “feel good music that lyrically tells stories about life and love…music that makes your heart think. … He coins his style of music, ‘soulful pop’.” This 24-year old musical prodigy is indubitably a “true” seasoned musician who has garnered a reputation for writing and producing warm, heart-felt, and infectious songs that engage the heart. His humble, yet aggressive spirit, along with his prolific musical talents has afforded him with many opportunities to “fall” comfortably into the music industry. With PJ's background in music, it is no wonder that he has found himself right at home in the music business. Coming from a musical background, PJ got his start singing in the church. He began to play the piano at the age of eight years old and by the age of 14, he was already writing and producing. His dream of becoming an artist began to take shape while he was in high school. PJ's hard work and dedication to his craft is gaining him national and international notoriety in the music industry. PJ is a Grammy-award winning writer and producer who can be cited for writing and producing for a wide array of artists. His creative prowess allows him to cross all genres of music. He has worked with a range of noteworthy artists from India.Arie to gospel superstar Fred Hammond. He recently teamed up with super producer Jermaine Dupri to co-write for such platinum artists as Jagged Edge, Monica, Heather Headley and LL Cool J. PJ just recently signed a publishing deal with Famous music publishing, the music publishing division of Paramount pictures. Having influences that range from Stevie Wonder to James Taylor, PJ reminisces on his childhood. “When I was younger, my mother would put on the Beatles and explain the songs … it made me focus on the writers. I’ve never been drawn to one style of music; it’s always been about the songwriters. That’s why Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Sting and James Taylor touched me so … because of the songs.” Because of the uniqueness of PJ’s music, one cannot place him in one specific category. He says it best by stating… “…Whatever genre you can stick Stevie Wonder or Sting in ….I’ll take that!” He has the necessary ingredients it takes to break new ground….to be a trailblazer! Without so much as a second thought, he will raise the bar in the industry! If one had to use one word to describe him, it would be FREE, because he does not worry about much. In his own words, PJ sums it up…“I just keep moving, because I know that it’s not my fight anyway. So, I just do what I do and let God do the rest!!!”