PJ Morgan Holiday Show - 12/1/19Sunday, December 01 2019 6:00pm Doors / 7:30pm Start
- Front Premier
- Bar Stool
PJ Morgan Holiday Show - 12/1/19
at City Winery Washington DC
- Front Premier
- Bar Stool
Over the last two decades, P.J. Morgan has emerged as one of the most respected and in-demand Hammond B3 superstars in the gospel music idiom. Morgan is renowned for weaving a musical tapestry with thick threads of traditional gospel music interwoven with elaborate Jazzy stitching. He is particularly skilled at remolding sacred hymns into contemporary Jazz renovations and this talent is expanding the boundaries of gospel music just as Morgan’s organ-playing gospel forerunners such as Twinkie Clark and Maceo Woods did years ago.
Aside from his longtime stint as a member of the all-star band for the BET Honors annual awards TV broadcast, the Washington, D.C. -area based ivory tickler is prepping the third installment of his instructional DVD series on keyboarding and he’s also been endorsed as an ambassador for Hammond USA. Morgan’s built a solid reputation from touring or recording with scores of artists such as Najee, Yolanda Adams, Kim Burrell and Ben Tankard over the last two decades “The most familiar warhorse becomes positively exciting in his hands (and feet), with harmonic twists and rhythmic turns that make your heart race and your mind focus,” a Keyboard Magazine scribe once wrote of him. “The organ seems to be an extension of his own limbs, and he makes it shout thunder or sing honey, depending on the needs of the worship service at hand. He knows when to sound traditional, when to sound soulful, and when to rock the house. He has the sound, the one everyone wants.”
Morgan toured with saxophonist Najee in support of his best-selling “Morning Tenderness” CD in the late nineties. “Najee was great,” Morgan recalls. “He let us do a lot of the arrangements for the shows and we literally toured the world. We did a USO tour. We did a lot of army bases. We were the band for Nike’s Jumpman advertising campaign with Michael Jordan and that was huge.” Still, he kept his gospel chops in order with steady work alternating between Richard Smallwood, Karen Clark Sheard, Donnie McClurkin and Kim Burrell.
Married with kids, Morgan received an offer to become director of music at the Reid Temple A.M.E. church in Maryland in 2000. “I needed to be in church,” he confesses of the position that he still holds. “I settled down and focused on my family.” While stationary, Morgan hasn’t been stagnant. He’s written, played on or produced for a number of gospel acts such as Maurette Brown Clark and Bishop Paul Morton. He’s released two keyboard instructional DVDs via Wheatworks in New York City with a third one releasing later this year. He also returned to school to finish the degree he started over two decades ago. The Bowie State University music major’s senior project is a gospel Jazz piece that he intends to turn into a commercial project. “I’m going to do 6-7 hymns and then do jazz renditions the way I hear them in my head,” he says. “I already know who I want to have sing on some of the songs.”
“I’ve been holding on to a lot of music for a long time and it’s time to release it,” Morgan says of the CD project that will release in the third or fourth quarter of 2014. “A lot of churches don’t even do hymns because the musicians don’t know them and even though we have a lot of mega churches, the older saints are the ones supporting the church with their money and they miss those hymns. I’m fortunate to have grown up in the middle of the old school and this new school generation so I know the old stuff and I think I’m hip enough to keep up with what’s going on now but the hymns of the church will never die and that’s part of what I’m here for.”
Meanwhile, Morgan just wrapped another BET Honors TV special as a member of the Ray Chew and the Crew band where he has backed artists ranging from Stevie Wonder and India Arie to Aretha Franklin on the organ since 2008. He also just backed Patti LaBelle and a who’s who of gospel acts at “The Superbowl Gospel Celebration 2014” syndicated TV special taped at New York’s Madison Square Garden. “I love what I do,” Morgan says. “And I can’t wait to do more of it.”