Pop-Soul singer/songwriter James Patrick Morgan has just completed a collection of new music entitled: ART+WORK=LOVE. The EP illustrates his myriad of musical influences and crackles with the energy he brings to his live shows. Produced by studio ace David Huff, the EP is full of infectious grooves and pure soul, highlighting James’ love of R&B and funk music.
With an appreciation for artists that range from Sam Cooke and Freddie Mercury to Ray Charles and Dave Matthews, Morgan freely admits, laughing, “My brain really is just one big melting pot of music!” Already a favorite among the Atlanta music scene, the Georgia native has spent years honing his sound while playing 300+ shows a year, performing covers and originals as well. The new EP will give the rest of the world a chance to experience the soulful grooves and upbeat energy that are Morgan’s musical hallmark.
Growing up in a rural area in Athens, Morgan was exposed to the requisite country music hits early on, but his tastes soon ran much further and deeper than Top 40 country radio. DC Talk was one of the first groups that resonated with him vocally, and when he picked up a guitar in his senior year of high school, he began paying close attention to artists like John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews, and Shawn Mullins.
An audition during college landed Morgan a spot as backing vocalist and rhythm guitarist for Virgin Records artist, Hope Partlow. The opportunity put him in front of Matt and Dean Serletic, who recognized James’ passion for a life on the stage right away, and the time he spent playing with Partlow cemented his desire to pursue a career as a singer.
Scott Patton, guitarist for Sugarland, saw James performing in 2010, and expressed a desire to team up creatively. The two ended up making an album together; five songs and a single called Back to LA. That relationship led to support slots for Sugarland and Jennifer Nettles.
“R&B, pop, and soul is where my heart lies for sure,” admits James. “I listened to Keith Sweat, Boyz II Men, and KC & Jo Jo -- all this stuff that was nostalgia-driven. Then, I fell in love with the groove, so that made me want to be a pocket player; and, I’m also inspired by the “Dave Matthews jam” and the way he puts on a really good show. So, I try to pair all of that with the energy and raw emotion from singers I admire.”
That gumbo of influences is unmistakable on songs like Expected and Alone. “I wrote Alone with Sean Hurley from Vertical Horizon after I watched hundreds of interactions night after night in clubs I was playing,” recalls James. “I’ve been playing 325 shows a year for the last five years, and I feel like I’m an old soul because of that. So, I wanted to write a song about what I wanted to say, sort of a catharsis of what I see when I go into these places.”
With years of performing under his belt, James has 1500 covers in his repertoire, and he includes an impressive take on Steve Miller’s hit, Fly Like an Eagle, on the new EP as well. He’s eager and ready to begin taking these songs to much bigger stages, and is thrilled at the chance to not only perform for bigger crowds, but also to make a positive impact on people with his music in the process.
“I want people to feel something. I come from that cusp of a generation that is right in between all the technology and can kind of still remember what it was like before. I have to believe there is a bridge between idealism and realism and people don’t have to live in one or the other; you can blend the two worlds and still have hopes for seeing things better, even if the world is not going the way you want it to. So, if I can leave any kind of legacy, it’s trying to show people it’s ok to be present and feel.”