PJ Morton [After-Hours]

We are thrilled to welcome NOLA-artist PJ Morton to the #SouthOnMain stage on June 25, 2016. Doors open at 4 PM, wristbands may be purchased day of the show for $20, show starts at 9 PM. Call (501) 244-9660 to make a reservation for a table.
As his celebrated 2015 live album Live Show Killer suggests, PJ Morton’s heart is onstage. In fact, the indie R&B darling and Maroon 5 keyboardist/vocalist owes his loyal following as much to his electrifying shows as to his popular albums. But it was his heart for his native New Orleans that led Morton, in November 2015, to relocate home to Louisiana and jumpstart his latest venture, Morton Records, an homage to the legacy of Berry Gordy’s Motown as well as his love missive to a city full of idle talent.
“There’s so much talent in New Orleans, but no infrastructure to put it out,” he explains when discussing the label, a passionate endeavor modeled closely after Motown with regards to artist development and community involvement. A lover of music and of history, Morton designed Morton Records as an in-house operation harking to soul and R&B music’s rich past of taking raw talent from the streets to stardom. Borrowing a page from Gordy’s playbook, Morton Records boasts an actual building in New Orleans complete with soundstage and live stage show space that prepares its acts for life as professional entertainers. Here, hungry but relatively inexperienced artists are taught how to dress and speak to the press—and of course, how to perform.
They’ll learn from a master. Influenced by acts ranging from the Beatles and James Taylor to Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, not to mention his father, famed gospel singer Paul S. Morton, PJ Morton has spent a lifetime in and around music. His official foray into the music industry was as a member of the band Freestyle Nation at the turn of the century. But it was his work as a songwriter/producer that gave him wings, earning him a Grammy Award for production of India.Arie’s “Interested” from her 2002 album Voyage to India. Spinning his award-winning turn into further success, Morton went on to collaborate with artists such as Jermaine Dupri, LL Cool J, Monica, Musiq Soulchild, and Trinitee 5:7. His work with gospel singer DeWayne Woods not only earned him Dove and Stellar Awards, but the distinct honor of seeing his production of Woods’ “Let Go, Let God” earn them a record 70 weeks on the gospel music charts. It was also during this time that Morton caught the attention of Academy Award-winning producer AR Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire) who commissioned a Morton song (“Sajna”) for the soundtrack of the hit Vince Vaughn-helmed feature film Couples Retreat.
Morton’s next big break came in 2010 when he was asked by Maroon 5 music director Adam Blackstone to audition for a spot in the band. The rest, as they say, is history; Morton joined the band as keyboardist and vocalist as he continued his solo artistry, releasing an EP in 2012 (Following My First Mind) featuring guest cameos from Adam Levine, Lil Wayne, and Jazmine Sullivan.
During this monumental time in his career, Cash Money Records’ co-CEOs Roland “Slim” Williams and Bryan “Birdman” Williams, along with their co-signer Lil Wayne, signed Morton, upon which time he released New Orleans, an aptly-titled tribute to the hometown he loves. Cash Money’s bet paid off: New Orleans’ lead single “Only One”, a luscious, up-tempo tune hit #1 on the iTunes R&B Albums Chart and the Top 5 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. It was also this single, featuring the legendary Stevie Wonder, that earned Morton his first Grammy nomination as an artist. “Stevie joining me on the track is the ultimate start. It’s my dream come true,” said Morton. “I want to continue the legacy he represents: musicianship and positivity.”
New Orleans’ legacy has come to be recognized as a story in American perseverance and rebirth. Going home was a labor of love for PJ Morton, who knows intimately the vastness of what his city has to offer the world. Morton Records has already released his own mix tape Bounce & Soul Volume I featuring Stevie Wonder, Lil Wayne, Juvenile, and Trombone Shorty. The label is also home to the captivating Urban Pop sister act, Jcksn Ave. and inspirational artist JoJo Martin.