Multitalented musician and songwriter PJ Morton is back with a new live album, Live Show Killer. The recording was held at the famous Henson Studios in Los Angeles where fans and media gathered to hear selections from his favorite solo releases. Morton has sonically delivered a diverse body of work infused by R&B, gospel and blues influences.
He began his musical journey in a church headed by his father, Pastor Paul Morton. His soulful upbringing led to bigger opportunities to showcase his God-given talents. He began touring with world-renowned pop group Maroon 5 and writing hit songs for artists like Stevie Wonder, landing him Grammy nominations. Rolling out had the pleasure of sitting down with Morton for a brief interview discussing his crossover from gospel to R&B music, his father’s influence on his career, and the concept behind the new album.
Check the highlights below:
When did realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I always break my musical background up into different sectors. There is the musician side that started when I was 14 years old. I began playing for the Sunday brunch at the House of Blues in the French Quarter, so I consider that to be my first real experience in the music business. I began songwriting with gospel music. Growing up with a father who is a pastor influenced the work I have done. I got my first placement when I was 15 years old and that kind of gave me the push I needed to continue my songwriting journey.
While attending Morehouse College, what made you decide to pursue a degree in marketing versus focusing on music?
Growing up in New Orleans I had a lot of friends who were true students of music. I have learned that sometimes the learning process of music takes away the soul of who we are as musicians. I didn’t want to learn music, because I really enjoy the way that I do it now. I don’t want to turn into a robot that has to trust notations on a page. I decided marketing was my best route and I have always had an interest in business administration. As artists we always have to market ourselves and our brands, so I have no regrets on my choice of study.
Who were some of your musical influences growing up as a child?
I would have to say my father. I really looked up to The Winans, Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Donny Hathaway, Prince, Michael Jackson and the list goes on. When I started to write songs I focused more on the work of The Beatles and James Taylor.
What was your father’s initial reaction when you crossed over from gospel to R&B music?
There were some push backs, because this wasn’t the norm. I was a son to the pastor, so everybody expected me to follow in his footsteps. At the very least, if I didn’t become a pastor then I was supposed to be a gospel singer. The more I grew in music people began to see that this was really my passion. I wanted to talk about more than just God. I wanted to sing about life and love. Once they saw that this was real for me and not just a rebellious thing they became my number one supporters and still are today.
How would you describe your sound?
I call it soulful pop music. It’s always coming from a place of soul reflecting who I am and where I come from. I try to write songs that everyone can relate to in a popular way. I like to write on broad issues of of love that bring people of all different backgrounds together.
How did you come up with the name for your new album?
My fans gave me that name. It’s funny because my persona on stage is different then the laid-back guy I am off stage. When I get on stage I really do feel like superman. Through the years we have shut down shows and [gone] head-to-head with the the best. I just embraced the name in all my humility. I really want people to know that this is what we do and performing for a show of fans is what I love the most.
What was the vibe like in the room at Henson Studios during the live recording of your album?
It was awesome! I got to invite some of close friends, family and fans. It was just a good group of people that were happy to be there. It felt like a friendly barbecue or a family reunion. We definitely had a good time in that room. The crowd participation that night was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better audience. I am thrilled! The epic vibe in the room came across on the record, which is exactly what I wanted. We really captured the true essence of soul.
What other projects are you launching in the near future?
I am working on a new studio album that I plan to release next year with all new songs. I am about to hit the road starting with my hometown in New Orleans. I will be on the road until the end of August. I will be back on tour with Maroon 5 traveling through Europe and Asia between September and October. After the tour, I plan to just relive it all over again.