Family, church instilled love of music in PJ Morton

Maroon 5 keyboardist is also a successful soloist

Image: Supplied.

When you mention Maroon 5, the first thing that comes to mind is front-man Adam Levine.

But the American band that has given us hits like She Will Be Loved, This Love and Moves Like Jagger has other band members like keyboardist PJ Morton.

Morton has in recent years had a successful solo career that has resulted in three consecutive Grammy wins.

He is back with another heartfelt R&B song, Please Don’t Walk Away, that encapsulates the vulnerability of a man losing the woman he loves.

Who is PJ Morton?

I’m a very laid back chilled guy who loves music. I am a person who loves love and I like to talk about love and life. I also like to inspire people as much as I can.

When and where did your love for music first start?

I’m a preacher’s kid. There was so much good music in church and I remember as a kid watching the musicians playing the drummers, the bass players, the guitars, the keyboard players and the singers. I got to witness them perform every single week – somehow I think music just got inside of me, it got into my bones and has impacted me ever since.

Who influenced your love for music?

My father, although he didn’t play the keyboard he is a great singer. Before I started looking at other artists like Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway as well as The Beatles; right in my house, my father and my uncles and aunts, all of them are musically talented so I got it from them.   

At what age did you realise you could sing?

When I was eight years old. I was pushed by my family to sing in the choir – at that time I didn’t know I could sing but people kept asking me to sing. However, playing the keyboard came first even before I thought I could sing. The piano came first even before I could do solos, I was so shy at that age so I would prefer pulling my head down to the keyboard than singing.

American Grammy winning musician, singer, songwriter and record producer, PJ Morton.
American Grammy winning musician, singer, songwriter and record producer, PJ Morton.
Image: Supplied.

What kind of a child were you growing up?

Growing up I had a lot of friends and I used to have fun with my friends, a lot of them started off together and became musicians. But I was also a chilled kid too who was kind of a loner, so when I would get home I would lock myself in and study my craft. As a teenager, I was kind of the class clown who was into music.

At 14, I was already a professional producer who was actually working. I was a focused teenager, I knew what I wanted to do. I had a deep love for music and it was showing me that I can actually do it as a career, so I started really early.

How did you meet your Maroon 5 band members?

Maroon 5 was way down the line. I had some friends who had asked Questlove [frontman of The Roots] if he could come in as a music director but he couldn’t do it – this is 11 years ago now. So, they recommended a friend of mine Adam Baxter who is a major music director in the industry, he was coming in with Maroon 5 and they were looking for a keyboard player. He threw my name in, I met the guys, we vibed and it was an instant connection and we’ve been rolling for 11 years now.

What were your highlights in the group?

We’re still having highlights. We just played at the US Stadium for the first time which was a brand new highlight. Of course, playing the Super Bowl was a highlight for me, having a number one album and performing at the Oscars. Teachable moments would be juggling both my solo career and being a part of the band. 6

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