New Orleans' PJ Morton is a versatile keyboardist, songwriter, and producer known for his own pop and R&B albums, as well as his studio work for other performers. Emerging in the early 2000s, Morton gained early notice working with artists like Kierra "Kiki" Sheard, DeWayne Woods, and Musiq Soulchild before issuing his own albums, such as 2013's Grammy-nominated New Orleans and 2017's Grammy-winning Gumbo. Since 2010, he has been a member of Maroon 5 and has contributed to many of the group's albums, including 2012's Overexposed, 2014's V, and 2017's Red Pill Blues.
The son of fellow recording artist Bishop Paul S. Morton and Pastor Dr. Debra Brown Morton, PJ Morton was born in New Orleans in 1981. He played music growing up, and eventually majored in marketing at Morehouse College, graduating in 2003. During this period, he launched his music career, releasing an album with his short-lived group Freestyle Nation, and contributing to India.Arie's Grammy-winning 2002 album Voyage to India.
Over the next few years, he released genre-crossing independent albums such as Emotions and Perfect Song while collaborating with Anthony David, Faith Evans, Monica, and Kierra "KiKi" Sheard. He also had a breakthrough success with the gospel hit "Let Go," written for DeWayne Woods. Morton's 2010 album, Walk Alone, featured his own version of the song, and he and his father performed the GMA Dove winner for the live release Bishop Morton Celebrates 25 Years of Music.
Along the way, Morton relocated to Los Angeles. In 2010, he joined Maroon 5 as a performing keyboardist and background vocalist. The work didn't slow his solo career; he signed to Young Money and released the album New Orleans — featuring guest appearances from Stevie Wonder, Busta Rhymes, and Maroon 5's Adam Levine — in May 2013. The album's single "Only One" earned him a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Song.
Despite his success, Morton grew dissatisfied with Los Angeles, and eventually moved back to New Orleans, where he founded his own Morton Records label. In 2017, he returned with his fifth solo album, Gumbo, which included appearances by Pell, BJ the Chicago Kid, and the Hamiltones. Also included on the album was a cover of the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love," which won the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance. Morton re-created the album live in 2018 and released it as Gumbo Unplugged (Live), which featured guests like Lecrae and Yebba. The holiday-themed Christmas with PJ Morton followed in November of that year. In 2019 Morton released Paul, an album with socially conscious undertones that featured guest appearances from Rapsody, Tobe Nwigwe and Jazmine Sullivan. The effort was nominated for best R&B performance for the 2020 Grammys, and was one of three nominations Morton received that year. ~ Andy Kellman