PJ Morton is a Grammy Award-winning writer/producer, member of the pop band Maroon 5 and newly signed solo artist to Young Money Entertainment’s new R&B division, Soothe Your Soul Entertainment.
The 31-year-old entertainer spent years developing a following as an underground artist on the independent music scene with CDs like “Walk Alone” (2010), “Live From LA” (2008) and “Emotions” (2003).
After years of facing criticism for being a preacher’s kid singing “secular music,” the New Orleans-bred vocalist decided to write a book offering Biblical perspective on why his desires to sing about love lined up with the Word of God.
I enjoyed my interview so much with Morton back in July 2009 for my “BV Buzz” column at AOL Black Voices that I decided to share it again for this week’s Throwback Thursday feature.
PJ Morton Tackles Church’s View on Secular Music
PJ Morton won’t be the first preacher’s kid to sing secular music, and he isn’t likely to be the last!
Unlike those before him who were ostracized and condemned by traditional churchgoers and religious radicals for singing non-sacred sounds, Morton has decided to educate churchgoers rather than rebelling against them.
The 28-year-old singer, who is the son of renowned pastors Bishop Paul S. Morton (Changing a Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church in Atlanta) and Dr. Debra B. Morton (Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church in New Orleans), has written a new book called “Why Can’t I Sing About Love?” that dispels the myth that all Christian singers must record and perform gospel music.
“I hope that the book causes people to see how big God is and that His affects reach far beyond the church and church music,” he explained. “Also, I want people to realize that if we believe that the Bible is truly God’s word, we can’t overlook certain parts, specifically the book of love songs in the Bible. He created those as well.”
Morton, a Grammy-winning songwriter and producer who has worked with artists such as Musiq Soulchild, India.Arie, Dewayne Woods and Ruben Studdard, said the scrutiny that music veterans before him faced helped birth his need to pen this tome.
“Artists like Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. It was because of their constant struggles to do what they felt in their hearts that people treated them with such hate, as if they were devils based on personal views, not the Bible,” he shared.
Though the book was inspired by those artists, Morton said “Why Can’t I Sing About Love?” is not limited to just singers.
“The target audience is the fan, creator, writer, producer or lover of music who has felt confusion about what the traditional viewpoint of church has been on music outside of gospel,” he said.
The New Orleans native, who now calls Atlanta home, knows that everyone won’t embrace his message.
“First, I’d tell to the skeptics to read my book,” he laughed. “So many scriptures. But really I’d say that I’m a Christian and I try to be like Christ. The sin is the unclean thing, not the people. We all sin every day. So we can’t judge as if we’re clean. Matthew 7:3-4, John 8:5-7: ‘I want to be known by my love like he was.’ Matthew 9:10-12: ‘He was among the sinners, and the Pharisees criticized him.’ So this isn’t new. Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.’ Light has to shine in darkness.”
In addition to his debut book and his most recent CD, “Live From L.A.,” Morton is gearing up to launch a new record company to change how people view love music.
“I’m launching a Song of Solomon division at Light/Tehillah Records that will allow artists who are like me to have a place. I believe it will change the music industry from this point on. Gospel/Christian record labels will have to pay attention to Christians who don’t only do gospel music. This will allow the kingdom to reach the mainstream more than ever in music,” he concluded.
“Why Can’t I Sing About Love?” will be available Aug. 11. For more information on the book or to order an advance copy, go to www.whycantisingaboutlove.com.
PJ Morton released an EP called “Following My First Mind” on March 27, 2012.