Morgan James, a singer/songwriter from New York with a penchant for soul, R&B and big pop sounds, appears at the City Opera House in downtown Traverse City Saturday, December 5. Learn more about the artist and what you can expect from her Traverse City event performance with MyNorth Media entertainment writer, Ross Boissoneau.
How She Got Her Start
Encouraged by her parents to pursue interest in the performing arts, James joined a choir in middle school. Her grandmother agreed to pay for singing lessons, and after graduating from high school James was accepted at the prestigious Julliard School. She studied opera and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in voice in 2003. She made her Broadway debut with Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth in The Addams Family, and also starred in Godspell and Motown: The Musical as Teena Marie. During this time she also performed at numerous clubs in and around New York City.
Soul, R&B, soulful pop
Influences and Inspirations
Nina Simone (her first album was a tribute to the jazz vocalist and pianist), Amy Winehouse, Barbra Streisand, Barbara Cook
James’ appearance as Teena Marie sharpened her sense of her musical direction as well as bringing her to the attention of Berry Gordy Jr., who in turn introduced her to guitarist Doug Wamble. Wamble wrote and produced her first studio album, Hunter, which also includes a soulful rendition of Dary Hall and John Oates’ “She’s Gone” and a sparse take on Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” She’s also worked with Postmodern Jukebox, a rotating group of musicians headed by pianist Scott Bradlee, which produces covers of pop songs in alternate styles, including jazz, ragtime, and swing. Many of its songs are posted on YouTube.
“I very quickly realized that I don’t have a gift for language. I don’t think you have any business doing opera if you don’t, and I didn’t fit in as much in that world.” – Morgan James in Playbill about her decision to pursue musical theatre rather than opera
“The description ‘neo-white soul singer’ sounds inadequate to evoke the steam she (James) elicited last Monday from songs associated with Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Prince and others at 54 Below.” – The New York Times
Date & Time
Saturday, December 5 at 8 p.m.
Tickets for the Traverse City event start at $23 and can be purchased at CityOperaHouse.com
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