The Music You Should Be Listening To: PJ Morton
The radio waves are filled with a cycle of “popular” songs played on repeat, not because of the quality but because of their sheer ubiquitous-ness. So, as opposed to the other crap that you hear from every media outlet, here is the music that you should be listening to.
Ever heard of PJ Morton? If you haven’t, you no doubt have been touched by his musical talents. He’s made his mark in the Pop, R&B/Soul, and Gospel arenas, earning a Grammy, a Dove, and a Stellar award. And outside of his solo endeavors, he is part of one of the world’s biggest bands. But we’ll get there later.
PJ has had a fruitful yet bumpy road in the music biz. His father, Bishop Paul Morton Sr., is a well known pastor and gospel recording artist from New Orleans, LA. And as chronicled in his song Son of a Preacherman, PJ has struggled to justify his desire to sing about love despite his gospel roots.
He even went so far as to write a book about it (Why Can’t I Sing About Love?). In the book he talks about how “love songs are not only inspired by God, but are in fact Biblical”. The clash between secular and gospel music is historic, rooted in the belief that gospel artists should not perform or record any secular music. Yolanda Adams is one such artist that has been caught in the middle of this argument. PJ’s book seems aimed at facing this issue head on and uniting both sides.
As he has fought to carve out his own identity, he’s done a pretty great job of pumping out some great music. He describes his music as “feel good music that lyrically tells stories about life and love…music that makes your heart think.” Known for his lively, rousing live sets, Morton has amassed a significant following. This has allowed him to release a series of independent albums. I’ve listed the links below along with some of the standout tracks:
His first big break arrived when he auditioned for a spot in the band Maroon 5. He was brought on board as a keyboardist and vocalist. His vocals are featured on the song Is Anybody Out There?, a song created by the band in a 24 hour session.
Even with this success, he has simultaneously continued to create solo material. In December of 2010, he released another mixtape entitled “Independently Major“, available for free.
But as I alluded to earlier, PJ’s solo work is just a slice of his musical offerings. He won a Grammy for songwriting and production on India.Arie’s song Interested. He has writer and producer credits with a plethora of other notable artists including Monica, Jermaine Dupri, and Fred Hammond. And he won Dove and Stellar awards for his collaboration with gospel singer DeWayne Woods on the ubiquitous “Let Go, Let God”.
And all of that work birthed a signing with Young Money Entertainment in December of 2011. Currently working on his debut album, Morton released the EP Following My First Mind on March 27, 2012. The lead single Lover features Young Money Entertainment’s captain Lil Wayne.
Another single, Don’t Break My Heart, shows a much more sensitive side, as depicted in its video.
WriteToLive’s Verdict: At first glance, PJ Morton doesn’t seem like someone that would fit on the Young Money roster, but the more I think about it the more I realize that he is a perfect match. PJ has soul with a tinge of hippie freedom. He is highly experimental, infusing his music with multiple genres from R&B/soul to folk, jazz to electronica, and gospel to pop. His writing is impassioned and intelligent, yet it speaks clearly to the common man. And the most refreshing thing about him is that you cannot put him in a box. He is neither defined nor led by any notions of what tastemakers think that music should be. PJ Morton is led by his own creative mind, making him a true original and an inevitable innovator.
Every now and then, the music industry needs a breath of fresh air, and PJ Morton is like a tornado. Appreciate his innate musicality and catch on now so that you can say you were a fan before he was big.
Now that I’ve weighed in, it’s your turn.
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