Morgan James is another one of our next generation performers on the rise! She's currently starring on Broadway in Frank Wildhorn's "Wonderland" and prior to that was in the original cast of "The Addams Family." She starred in "The Rock Tenor" with Broadway's Rob Evan in Philadelphia and was a featured soloist in Bernstein's "Mass" with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, performing at Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center and can be heard on their Grammy nominated recording ("Naxos"). She has performed nationally in concert and theatrical productions at Arizona Theatre Company, Kansas Repertory Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, Paper Mill Playhouse, Eugene O'Neill Theatre Conference, The Wilma Theatre, and Two River Theatre Co.
In addition to her theatrical career, Morgan can be seen and heard in numerous commercials, voice-overs, and recordings and is featured on Will Van Dyke's "Chasing The Day," Scott Alan's, "What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up," Paul Loesel and Scott Burkell's "(Sorta) Love Songs, the upcoming "Tears From Heaven" album by Frank Wildhorn and "Bring Me Giants" (with James Barbour).
If you have never seen or heard Morgan James, then head on down to Birdland in NYC (315 West 44th Street, between 8th & 9th Avenue) on Monday, May 9 at 7pm to hear Morgan James sing as part of Jim Caruso's "Broadway In Birdland" series with special guests Katie Thompson ("Spidermusical," "R.R.R.E.D. A Secret Musical"), Christopher Jackson ("In The Heights"), and Sharon Clark (Jazz Singer)!
Morgan can also be seen 8 times a week in Frank Wildhorn's "Wonderland" (click here for my review) on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre in NYC (1535 Broadway, between 45th & 46th Street). For much more on Morgan be sure to visit http://www.morganjames.org!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? Well, different people have inspired me at different points in my career. When I was first starting out in Musical Theatre, I was very inspired by Audra McDonald, Barbara Cook, Barbra Streisand and Kelli O'Hara. But with my solo career, my sound is most influenced by Nina Simone, Aretha, Eva Cassidy, Donny Hathaway, and Etta James.
2. What is the highest and lowest note you can sing? Highest note is G above high C, and lowest is E below middle C.
3. Who is the one person you haven't worked with that you would like to? So many amazing people I would love to work with! I have to pick one?? Well, for theatre, Stephen Sondheim. (Would also love to sing with Derek Trucks on guitar).
4. What excites you most about your upcoming Birdland concert? How did you decide which songs to perform and on your special guests? I am so excited for my upcoming show at Birdland! First of all, it's such an iconic, legendary venue--I'm honored to be singing a solo show there. (In fact I am adding a couple tunes to the set that feel like they belong in Birdland specifically, like a new version of "Ill Wind"). I am singing a set of blues and soul tunes, all with my signature arrangements--and adding in 3 brand new songs by the amazing Katie Thompson. Sharon Clark is a fantastic jazz singer, and she just belongs at Birdland! Sharon will be making her NYC debut as my guest, and I am thrilled to have them both join me! What's your favorite part about the creative process of putting together a show like the one you will be doing at Birdland? To put together a show like this, I have to spend a lot of time perfecting and changing arrangements with my collaborators, Damien Bassman and Chris Fenwick. I learn a lot by watching/listening to past performances and practicing with all those elements in mind. (I rearrange my set-list about 10 times a day! Can we say OCD?) I have to secure photographers, videographers, make sure the band (7 players) are all set and ready and rehearsed...being a band leader is hard work :)
5. What attracted you to "Wonderland" and what is your favorite part of the show? I have always loved "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and the many different versions and permutations, and I am a huge fan of Frank's (Wildhorn) work, so... obviously I was so excited to be a part of it. Being a part of a brand new show is an incredibly unique, challenging and rewarding process and experience--and I am lucky to have now been a part of two back to back. It's a real joy. And I just love Frank's music--I truly believe it's his best score. The story has a lot of heart and warmth--and it's a show for the entire family.
6. Favorite place to rehearse/practice on your own? I rehearse at a space on 8th avenue for small ensembles (like just vox and percussion, or just vox and piano), and when I need to get the whole band together, I rent space at Michiko studios or somewhere like that.
7. Favorite way to stay in shape? I am a huge fan of "physique 57." I also weight train and ride my bike to work when the weather is nice (all the way from queens!)
8. Favorite skin care product? Bert's Bees repair serum.
10. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superman.
11. What is the best advice you've ever received? "live in the question."
12. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? (this is a loaded question) It would have to be my childhood crush, Denzel Washington :)