Meli'sa PR shot

Courtesy of Ulysses Carter

Having recently re-emerged on TV One’s popular docu-series ‘UnSung,’ legendary R&B vocalist, Meli’sa Morgan, returns with a brand new single, “So Good,” after being conspicuously absent from the music scene for more than ten exceedingly long years.

“So Good” — Tell me about this particular composition. How did it actually come to fruition?

Hi…my new single “So Good” came about through developing a real ship and friendship with RFC/Fresh Records/Entertainment. A few years ago, I met them and they said they wanted to release a record on me. They also promote shows that I have performed on in the tri-state area. Earlier this year, they said they had a producer, Lenny Fontana, that they wanted me to work with. I went to Lenny’s studio and the first song he played me was this track. I fell in love with it immediately! I went home and wrote the lyrics and melody, and recorded it the next week. I laid down about 5 or 6 tracks of vocals and left the rest to Lenny…end result…”So Good.” That is usually how I do songs…but the first criteria is that I have to feel like it is the right fit for my vocal style and it fits well as a Meli’sa Morgan record.

Sonically, how does “So Good” measure up to other Meli’sa Morgan offerings? 

Well…I wouldn’t call my songs that have withstood the test of time and are classic hits, offerings! *Laughs* I would call them my “body of work” or my catalog. As far as measuring up to my previous work, I really don’t think or compare like that because there is such a gap in time-span between songs and life and history. I always try to record and do and give the BEST “MELI’SA MORGAN” at the time I am recording. I believe “So Good” is me now, and a good deliverance of my vocal ability today. It expresses an upbeat, strong beat with a driving vocal track, that shows my affectations and style.

So Good” comes courtesy of your forthcoming, not to mention long overdue, still untitled, sixth solo collection. At this point in time, what all can you reveal and/or divulge about said upcoming set?

I can say as always, “No song before it’s time!” We are working diligently to listen and pick the right songs for my upcoming CD. It takes a lot of work, and reaching out and seeing what great songs and tracks will come to me. We have a few surprises that we are working on, and I believe this CD will be a wonderful addition to my body of work.

How does the new material either differ and/or compare to previous Meli’sa Morgan efforts?

It will differ because new is new…so that element will be heard and stand on its own. As far as comparison, you will always have comparison to the old and new ’cause I am still the same person and I have the same voice and style. It is just what I will be doing to incorporate it into new tracks and make it work.

What particular string of events led to your current signing to RFC/Fresh Records?

Oh…I touched on that in the first question! *Laughs again* I had developed a friendship and work association with them over the years.

“So Good” also signifies your “official” comeback, considering it’s your first new project since 2005’s I Remember. That said, what all had/have you been up to, both personally and professionally speaking, during this ten-plus year musical hiatus?

They always call it a comeback even though I haven’t been anywhere…I have been right here working and grinding through. I recently was and is still seen on my ‘UNSUNG’ episode about my life and career thus far. I have always believed in taking a break between projects. Sometimes I take longer than people think I should, but I feel it’s important to regroup and live. I have always worked…touring and doing shows. I have done several collaborations with other artists who are friends of mine…like NAJEE. We did a song in 2014 called “In The Mood To Take It Slow,” that was featured on his CD, and then went on to be nominated for a Soul Train Music Award in 2014…just last year! That was exciting. There is a very nice lyric video that you can see on this song on YouTube. I then did a duet with Cheryl Pepsii Riley and Vivica Fox on the last Full Force CD that came out this year. The song was entitled “Thank You For Leaving Me.” It was well received, and played across the country on quiet storm radio formats. We also did the first performance lyric video to go along with the song that is playing on YouTube and other video stream outlets Now…outside of music, I have been renovating my home in South Carolina. Designed my first walk-in closet from the ground up! Very proud of that room. Working on outside projects; like my MELI’SA MORGAN FRUITSTICKS – delicious fruit arrangements – that I do for weddings/birthdays and party events. I also crochet oversize scarfs and blankets that I am starting a boutique line soon…as well as the most important thing, falling in love…getting engaged last year and now planning our wedding.

What was it specifically about 2015 that prompted you to return to music?

I never left music…so for me this is not a return. This is a song that I can proudly put the Meli’sa Morgan name on as a new expression as a recording artist and of who I am now. Everything is about timing and believing. I now have people who believe in me with RFC/Fresh Records. My PR firm believes. Nowadays, you have to have a pro-you team around you to help you succeed. I have my own production company, AsileM Productions, which I developed years ago to manage my career as well. All these components have to be ready to work together towards your success. I feel this is the time.

With that being said, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you, either changed and/or evolved since your inception into music?

The industry and life has changed ’cause this is a reality driven computer era. The way we sold records back in the day is no longer. Everything is through internet, social media and download outlets,etcetera. I mean, social media is how people connect, and this is different from even 10 years ago. We have to download songs to get credit for sales. No more record stores except for Target and Walmart, who sell records but are not real record stores. I have adapted and changed with the time. Music sounds and deliverance is not the same. I listen to Chris Brown and The Weeknd ’cause that is the “now” sound and where music is going, and I want to be a part of that…but still be me.

red shirt

Courtesy of Ulysses Carter

Reflecting, how did you first discover your musical talent?

I didn’t discover my musical talent…my mother did. It was her who said she thought I could sing and put me in a gospel choir at the age of 9. I think I knew by high school though that music was going to be my life and career direction. Singing was so in my blood by then. If you let life and let God…they will take you in the direction you need to go into. By 15, I had recorded a song and was being primed for who I was supposed to be.

Who have been your greatest inspirations musically and why?

Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, R. Kelly, Marvin Gaye. I love artists that grab your soul and take you on a journey with their vocal passion and deliverance in a song. These artists do that for me. I had the pleasure of singing background and touring with Chaka Khan; a great learning experience for me. I just toured opening on ‘The Great Voices Of Soul,’ UK tour starring PATTI LABELLE. I have learned and been embraced by the best vocalists in this industry. Opened and toured with Gladys Knight & the Pips. Just great life lessons in being a consummate vocalist.

How then would you describe and/or define the style of music that you create and perform?

I create passionate soul music with energy and fire. My vocal style is raw with strength and power. I sing from the heart and I think while and when I sing. It is a natural flow from brain to voice. It happens and I don’t even realize it. I hear my voice and some of the vocal ability and range that I have and even I don’t believe it’s me. It’s a gift…just thankful that I am the vessel that it comes out of.

Longevity, what do you attribute yours to? 

Being real to the music and being real to my heart and soul. I have love and passion for vocals. It is real and the truth. That’s what I deliver. I have never fluffed my vocals or tried to be anything other than me. I LOVE my fans and I LIVE for performing for them. I keep it real. I try to be the best I can be. I am always trying to do and be better as a person and artist and entertainer. Sometime I fall short…but I pick myself up and try to do better. That is surviving and that gives you longevity.

What do you feel you offer the music industry that we don’t already have in other performers?  

This is a strange question ’cause I have already offered my gift of singing and it has been accepted. I don’t like comparing myself to other artists. I offer the best me that I have to give and I believe that is enough.

Have you encountered any problems in getting to this point in your career? And, what do you want people to get from your music?  

With life you encounter problems; if you don’t you are really not living. The ever changing and evolution of music is not exactly a problem, but in order to stay relevant in this game you have to keep up. I welcome a good challenge and I so enjoy growing into a better me. As long as the music is real and from my heart, then I feel good and I feel like I am on the right playing field. I feel like that with (my) new song  “So Good”…so I am alright. I often hear people tell me my songs brought them through something or they fell in love, and or “Do Me, Baby” was their song, etcetera. If I can help you get through a rough time in your life…or help someone else fall in love…or help someone else feel good and have romance in their life…or have a mother talk to her kids about living in a “Fool’s Paradise,” then that is what I want people to get from my music.

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of R&B? And, even more specifically, where exactly do you “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?

I am very happy with the state of R&B today ’cause real soul music, with great lyrics and deliverance, is coming back. The root of the soul is here to stay! I fit in perfectly with this ’cause this is what I do best; real music with passionate and creative deliverance. I fit right in the pocket with this genre of music.

Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music? 

I covered this subject in the previous question and answer. My renovating. My MELI’SA FRUITSTICKS and my crocheting entitled CROCHET BY MELI’SA.

What has been your greatest achievement(s) so far? 

Always working on trying to be a good person and friend. Everything else is appreciated accomplishments, but nothing can be greater than this. This takes constant work as long as you are alive. I am happy about my work achievements…receiving the diamond plus, platinum plaque – 10 million plus sold by RIAA – for singing background on Whitney Houston’s first album. Having “Do Me, Baby” go #1 on the Billboard charts for 4 weeks, as well as my other #1 and top ten chart topping songs; “Love Changes,” with KASHIF, “If You Can Do It (I Can To),” “Do You Still Love Me?,” (Shades of Love’s) “Body To Body (Keep In Touch),” “Still In Love,” etcetera. Being a songwriter and receiving platinum certified albums/CDs for my work on artists CDs and albums; like LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, etcetera. I am very proud of the music legacy that I have made as well. It’s hard work to leave a good history of your accomplishments and achievements that will be here long after you are gone. I have that. I am very proud of that.

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why? 

I would have loved to have done a duet with MARVIN GAYE; what a free spirit and genius vocalist. To see how he would deliver a song that would bring you to tears because of his understanding of vocal and lyrical togetherness…WOW!

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

I just played one this past Sunday…WEMBLEY ARENA in London, England. I have always wanted to perform there. It was AMAZING!

One track of yours that you think defines you and why? 

“Do You Still Love Me?” The question and heart of the body of that song says it all for me. It was one of my best recorded vocals to date for me. My vocal spirit was captured.

Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?  

Just that life is about TRUTH and the journey you take to get to the truth. No matter what your profession is or what you do. Go towards the truth and you can never go wrong.

Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?

Thank you for the opportunity (of) letting (me) express myself all these years through my music. Thank you for the understanding of my creative talent. My gift of song is a blessed privilege given to me by God. I don’t take it for granted, and neither do I take my fans and the support they have given to me over the years and now. I appreciate and LOVE you all.