Morgan James

July 2014


What did you want to become when you were a child?

I wanted to be a painter, like my grandpa. Then I really wanted to be a Veterinarian-- I even planned to go to UC Davis and then work at the San Diego zoo! And then paint the animals :)


How did your friends/family react when you told them you wanted to be a singer?

My folks were a little apprehensive, but totally supportive. I think they also knew there was no stopping me!


Tell us about your album "Hunter"; what inspired you to do this (beautiful, haunting, soulful, at-times dance-worthy) album?

Over the last two years that I've been signed to Epic Records, I really learned to write. We released my Morgan James Live album, I did two broadway shows... And I had many, many writing and producer sessions. And none of them turned out to be the exact fit. BUT they got me on my path of how to write (I am still very much a beginner!!). 


When I got the chance to have a residency in NYC, and my collaboration with Doug Wamble was continuing to develop and thrive, we were able to try new songs out every couple of weeks. Singing new material on front of an audience is invaluable! And organically, the songs were shaped and tweaked and massaged... The vision of the record started to become clear. (In other words, the cream rose to the top.) LA Reid was very clear and patient about wanting me to find "my sound", and ultimately he let me make the record I wanted to make. 


Doug Wamble and I slaved over every part of this album, from the arrangements to the background vocals, every single sound and choice. I knew I had to see this vision through and not compromise or try to please everyone. I want to be able to stand by this album for years to come. 


How long did it take you to do your album, "Hunter"? 

The album was recorded over a period of 7 months. (We did the first band tracking in October, and I finished my last song with Robert Glasper in late February; then mixing, mastering and artwork followed, etc.)


What is the one song you will never tire of hearing or singing: 

Of my songs, I think i actually love singing "Fed up on You" the most. And I never tire of singing "call my name" by prince! (We may release my version later!).  I never tire of hearing Aretha sing "Oh Me Oh My"


What has been your greatest accomplishment so far:

Even though it was a while ago now, I am still pretty proud that I got into Juilliard. And that I stuck it out and graduated/survived ;)


Who inspires you in the industry?

Audra McDonald, Prince, Sharon Jones, Stevie Wonder. So many for lots of different reasons!


What aspects of your job do you like best/least?

I love to sing, anywhere, anytime: I do feel it is what I was put on earth to do. The fact that I can call that my job, and reach people is a joy. I hate the uncertainty and constant need to self-promote. 


Which role, given the chance, would you love to incarnate on Broadway:

Oooh. Amalia in "she loves me", Dot in "Sunday in the park with George". And a role written just for me would be nice!


What makes you happy?

Singing. Scones. Sunshine. My kitties. Making someone laugh. Finding a bargain. Winning at scrabble. Bowling. Sex. Giraffes. Pigeons. 


What are some of your favorite movies?

The Jerk, This is Spinal Tap, Groundhog Day, The Princess Bride, Up!, The Usual Suspects


What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Trolling etsy. Also stalking dogs I want to adopt. (HA!)


Describe yourself in 5 words:

Driven, silly, tender, stubborn, courageous 


Which living person do you admire most?

One?? Oh gosh. So hard. I have to say the Dalai Lama. But it's hard for me to comprehend his sacrifice and way of life. Makes my brain hurt.


What do you most value in people?

People who are true to their word, and courage. 


Name 2 things people don't know about you:

I think most people think I have very thick skin and nothing bothers me. And though I am pretty tough, I am also very sensitive. I take things very seriously, very to heart. And so... I don't know if people are as careful or tactful with me. I am tender-hearted. 


Also, I love photo shoots. 


What is your motto?

Squeaky wheel gets the grease


Any advice for those wanting to become musicians?

Never leave school. School is the lesson, the class, the journal, the gig after your gig, the rehearsal, every record and singer/musician who came before you and will come after. So many people phone it in, and think they're "done". YOU'RE NOT DONE. 


Any last words?

I have to say...The thing I am most proud of about HUNTER is that there is no tuning of any kind. I don't know if people know how much things are tunes and messed with nowadays--our ears are just used to it. Lots of really neat, amazing, brilliant tools get abused over time, in my opinion. It's not that anything is wrong with tuning... But for me, and this project, I am very proud that I sang every single lead and background vocal and nothing was touched :)


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