One voice is all it takes. The right vocalist can make you fall in love at first listen, elicit tears, or bring you back to a different era altogether. A microphone and a stage remain the only necessities. That holds true for New York-based singer and songwriter Morgan James. On her full-length debut for Epic Records, Hunter, she casts an unbreakable spell with a powerhouse voice equally inspired by smoky soul, swaggering R&B, theatrical swing, and a virtuosic classical poise.
The Idaho native discovered her passion for music early on and pursued it wholeheartedly at the prestigious Juilliard School. While in the midst of the institution’s rigorous academic program, she soon realized that her path would diverge from the classical world.
Soon, she would be heard in a big way. In 2008, Morgan booked her first Broadway show, appearing in The Addams Family alongside Nathan Lane, as well as in prominent and leading roles in Wonderland, Godspell (Turn Back, O Man), and Berry Gordy’s Motown The Musical as Teena Marie. The latter set the stage for her to properly launch her solo career. Gordy recognized the vocalist’s immense talent, and introduced her to Doug Morris and L.A. Reid, opening the door for a deal with Epic Records in 2012.
Around the same time, Morgan booked a landmark show at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, where she paid tribute to Nina Simone with a set of songs that were closely associated with the legendary artist. The incendiary show was recorded and released as the critically acclaimed Morgan James Live. It also proved to be the perfect segue for her first studio album, released in June of 2014. The record tempers electronic elements with her overpoweringly soulful delivery.
Ultimately, her honesty permeates everything that Morgan James does, and it’s why you’ll always remember her voice. “I want people to walk away from this album feeling fulfilled. That’s the way it used to be. Often, I think I’m from another time,” she says, her voice trailing off. “I just want to bring back the power of the singular legacy voice.”
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“…a phenomenal talent whose feel for classic soul music is bone deep…this woman is on fire.” – The New York Times