Throughout her spectacular career, singer, songwriter, and Broadway actress Morgan James has taken on beloved roles and songs to give them her unique perspective and make them her own. She rocked the stage as Christ herself in an all-female version of Jesus Christ Superstar, took on a full-album acoustic cover of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, and brought the critics to their feet with her cover of Joni Mitchell’s classic Blue album.
James has also recorded and toured with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, a musical collective that covers modern songs with a vintage twist – turning today’s pop hits into swing and jazz classics. Most recently, she released a video in which she put her signature spin on the Nirvana grunge rock classic Lithium.
Now James has set her sights on one of the world’s most iconic records: the Beatles’ White Album. While each song is performed in its original key, James provides a soulful vibe and feminine flair to songs originally penned and recorded by four lads from Liverpool.
Listeners find the classic ballads “Blackbird” and “I Will” presented acappella with James showcasing artfully-constructed harmonies. The wistfully mournful lyrics of “Julia” are borne beautifully by her heavenly vocals, while the early heavy metal sound of “Helter Skelter” infuses the album with James’s signature funky soul treatment. The album was produced by her longtime collaborator Doug Wamble, who played the instruments in every song as well as providing additional vocals.
Due for release on October 26, the White Album cover is perfectly timed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original release (which happened on November 22, 1968). Meanwhile, fans will be able to see James perform live on her White to Blue tour across Europe, Canada, and the U.S. “We wanted to pay homage to this incredible double album by stepping into their shoes, and diving deep,” James said of the White Album project. “I think it’s a side of me that fans haven’t seen before, which is exciting!”
Whether she’s writing and exploring new material or experimenting and putting her own spin on time-honored classics, James is guaranteed to delight both her fans and fans of the original material alike.
About Morgan James:
"A phenomenal talent whose feel for classic soul music is bone deep...This woman is on fire." -- The New York Times
One voice is all it takes. The right vocalist can make you fall in love at first listen, elicit tears, or bring you back to a different era altogether. A microphone and a stage remain the only necessities. That holds true for New York-based soul singer, songwriter, and Broadway actress Morgan James.
Part of Morgan’s creative trajectory has become centered around her full album cover projects. She covered D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” one month after its release, Jeff Buckley’s “Grace” and a critically acclaimed full cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Blue”. She now takes on her most ambitious project to date: The Beatles “White” album, celebrating the 50th anniversary of its original release.
Her latest studio album, "Reckless Abandon", is her first as an independent artist, and it is her most personal outing yet, prompting the Huffington Post to call MJ the "Brightest Breakout Artist of the Year". Morgan assumed co-writing duties on all twelve tracks and sang all her own background vocals. The album is stocked with lush horns and harmonies, and stretches limbs between genres for a sound all its own. From the Rufus inspired soul swagger of the opening track "Up In Smoke", to the delicious R&B slow jam "You Thought Not", to the infectious soulful pop of "Unworthy", MJ takes the listener into her new era of freedom and empowerment.
On her full-length debut for Epic Records, “Hunter,” she cast an unbreakable spell with a powerhouse voice, theatrical swing, and a soulful poise. “Hunter” boasts a powerful and personal rendition of Prince’s “Call My Name” (reached Top 15 at Urban AC radio and #1 most added). Morgan assumed co-writing duties on eight of the collection’s eleven tracks and performed all of her own background vocals and harmonies. From the empowering farewell of “Fed Up On You” to the mournful rumination of “Say The Words”, or the soulful duet with Grammy Award winner Robert Glasper, "Let Me Keep You", she continually bares it all—both emotionally and musically.
In addition to her studio albums "Reckless Abandon" and "Hunter", Morgan has released a live tribute to her idol, Nina Simone, "Morgan James Live", as well as an EP featuring some of her fan's favorite covers, "YouTube Sessions". (She can also be heard on countless theatre and concept soundtracks). Morgan is proud to note that no vocal tuning of any kind has been used on any of her albums.
Morgan’s videos on YouTube have accumulated more than 150 million views (and climbing). With viral sensation Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox, Morgan toured the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. She is currently on the road touring with her band!
Melissa Polinar first embarked on her journey when the industry was evolving into something new with the digital age. Many of her first steps forward as a singer-songwriter were in large part thanks to YouTube at its beginning. She bubbled to the top of the website’s music category with a collection of original songs, which instantly set her apart from most other curators who are more known for covers of pop music. Self-penned songs like “Try” and “Meant to Be” solidified her presence on YouTube not just as a singer, but an authentic songwriter known for her artistic poise and lyrical sincerity.
It was during the formidable years between her YouTube videos and her extensive songwriting experience at a young age in Nashville when she began to fit into her shoes evolving to the artist that she is today. As the old industry further gave way to the social media era, she was able to reach more of an audience with her work than had arguably ever been available for Asian-American artists before. Polinar put a face and a voice to rising artists worldwide from the early stages of her career onward - thanks to her Internet presence and grassroots approach. In March of 2017, these events culminated into a spotlight for Polinar at SXSW (South by Southwest) in its first official Asian-American showcase put on by the LA-based nonprofit Kollaboration.
Throughout her career, Polinar has gained the respect and recognition of several recognizable artists for her unique soulful vocals, heart-bearing lyrical content, and passionate musicianship. These include many other respected singer-songwriters like Jeremy Passion, Ernie Halter, Tony Lucca, and Matt Cusson. Each of one of them collaborated and were featured on 2014’s Calls & Echoes. Polinar’s first full-length album, it was produced by David Ryan Harris, Jesse Barrera, and Josiah Bell.
She has also been praised by Grammy Award winners like Questlove (The Roots), Mark Kibble (Take 6), and India.Arie, the last of which was also a collaborator on Polinar’s latest project, Rise At Eventide. Funded by fans via PledgeMusic and independently released worldwide April 2017, Rise At Eventide is a testament to the experience Polinar has gained throughout her long-running career.
Listeners are drawn to Polinar’s cover of Sting’s “Fragile” featuring India.Arie on the project. The two singers draw out a soul from one another that is impressive even by their vocal standards. “Fragile” is just the song for Polinar and her Grammy-winning collaborator to fully deliver the kind of swagger that they can draw out of one another. Given that Polinar has received praise for her music from India.Arie for the past several years, it also marks a time for the two longtime fans of each other’s art to respectfully make art together.
Rise At Eventide showcases the original music that Polinar has always been best known for. She takes the musical blend of genres ranging from soul to blues and folk that her long-time fans always appreciated in her work and sets it to themes that embrace love, reflection, and self-empowerment. Completing the breezy and reflective nature of Rise At Eventide is the artful direction taken with producing and mixing by Polinar’s longtime friend and collaborator, Jesse Barrera. Polinar also exhibits her production capabilities on co-producing the track “Lost Balloon” which was co-written with Adam Levy (Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman).
Previous works released by Polinar include Live at Room 5 Sessions (2015), As of Now (2010), and Bandcamp releases of her YouTube originals and covers. Outside of writing, performing, and producing her own art, Polinar has contributed her talents across multiple albums by other artists.