PJ Morton: The First Time - Rolling Stone
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PJ Morton Talks His Game-Changing Maroon 5 Audition on ‘The First Time’

The New Orleans native also recalls winning his first Grammy, meeting Paul McCartney, and more

PJ Morton kicked off his The First Time interview by describing what it was like to win his first Grammy.

After several nominations in years prior, Morton finally won Best Traditional R&B Performance at the 2019 Grammys for the Bee Gee’s hit, “How Deep Is Your Love.” He snagged Best R&B Song at the Grammys the following year for his hit “Say So,” and most recently won his third consecutive Grammy for Best Gospel Album back in March of this year. 

A self-taught pianist, Morton began his musical journey as a child in his church’s choir. “I remember my first solo because it was pressure; my father [Paul Morton] was the pastor. So [he’s] like, ‘You can’t embarrass me,’” Morton recalls. “I was rehearsing with the choir director… and my dad was like, ‘Show your emotions, son… you got to almost be crying.’ I probably use that to this day… and always connect to emotion in song. I remember that clearly.” 

Morton’s first tour came immediately after graduating from Morehouse College when he was invited to hit the road with Erykah Badu. “I was a huge fan and that was my first time on a tour bus… I couldn’t ask for a better tour because Erykah is a vet. It was such a great example and set me on my path. I actually started writing my first album while I was on tour with Erykah. It changed everything.”

The singer-songwriter, who joined Maroon 5 as a keyboardist in 2010, also shared what it was like to first meet the pop-rock band. “I was doing a tour and I had like three dates left on [it]. My friend Adam Blackstone called me and was like, ‘Hey man, would you want to be a part of Maroon 5?”

Morton ended up canceling the last three dates of his tour to head to L.A. for the audition. “They asked me to learn ‘Sunday Morning.’ I think the guys had never auditioned anybody. They’ve been a band since they were in eighth grade. I had never had an audition in my life, so we just vibed out, played ‘Sunday Morning,’ and then they were like, ‘What else do you know?’ And I just started vibing. They forgot that they had other people to audition after me. They canceled the second day of auditions, and the rest is history. Eleven years later now.”

Morton also shared a number of other firsts, including meeting Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, and his earliest memories of playing the piano as a kid. His first new single of 2021, “Please Don’t Walk Away,” is out now on all major streaming platforms.

In This Article: PJ Morton, The First Time, Video

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