PJ Morton’s month long journey to Africa is more than a trip, it’s a transformative experience. Born in New Orleans, his soulful melodies have won him multiple Grammys with his music transcending borders. He is renowned for masterfully blending soul, R&B, and gospel genres in his music, and finds his sound deeply rooted in the rich tradition of African tunes. This trip is not just a physical move, it’s a spiritual return, an opportunity to connect more with the genres that have influenced his music. Being in Africa, the birthplace of these musical styles, holds a great significance for him.
The trip to Africa represents a chance to connect deeper with the genres that have shaped his sound. He’s heading out with a mindset ready for anything, eager to soak in all real-time experiences, and thrilled about his journey. He came working on a new record, exploring different sounds while meeting various artists, writers, and producers.
On his maiden journey to Africa’s vibrant South and West, he’s discovering a region rich in musical talent, often overlooked globally. The significance of him going to countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, and the South African region, which are the epicenters of these musical styles, was life-changing.
His arrival in Africa coincides with a global surge of interest in the continent’s music scene, catalyzed by the rise of Afrobeats and initiatives like the “Year of Return.” However, he seeks a genuine, unfiltered experience, free from the trappings of all the hype and glitz. He wants to be in Accra during a time when it’s simply Accra. “I wanted to be here when it was just Accra, as opposed to what the hype of Detty December is. I want to make it and really be here.”
As he settles into the bustling city of Accra, the artist takes a moment to reflect on the heartwarming reception he has encountered since his arrival.
“Here and there, all over Africa has been open arms, everybody’s happy that I’m there. Everybody’s showing love and everybody’s supporting,” Morton says. As we chat on a bright afternoon at Treehouse, his eyes sparkle with anticipation. This cozy Osu eatery, a hub in Accra’s nightlife, was set for his concert later that evening.
With a plan to create an album during his stay, Morton has carefully structured his approach to collaborations. “The process is making sure we have good songs and then kind of approaching who to collaborate with to make those songs, what they can be,” he explains.
One of the key highlights of Morton’s sojourn was to finish an album in 30 days by collaborating with local artists, producers, writers at every stop he made across Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and & Egypt. At his Ghana stop, Morton had a two day writing camp at the legendary Black City Studios in Accra. The writing camps invited both emerging and established artists and producers to come and create work on different elements of the album.
It’s an acknowledgment that the future of music lies in bridging the gap between cultures and generations. Morton’s trip to Africa shows his commitment to not only creating music, but also nurturing the young and burgeoning talent in the motherland. ‘’That was really important to me, connecting with the young folks and culture as well, there’s some great talents coming from this continent , and it’s humbling having to meet these guys.’’
Morton’s appreciation for African music is profound and genuine. He’s not here just to make music; he’s here to absorb the essence of the culture. “I think sometimes in the States, we do look at it as one thing,“ he reflects. “Musically, I’m old school, I always love mixing the old with the new school, and Highlife is Ghana, and it’s a genre that influences me.”
For Morton, the journey to the continent wasn’t solely about personal growth, but about leading the way for the next generation of aspiring musicians.. He’s set on proving to his American peers that Africa is a goldmine of opportunities and untapped musical wealth. As he eloquently puts it, “I don’t mind being one of the first to show my generation of artists let’s go and let’s connect back to home.”
The soul of Africa pulses through every note he plays and every word he sings. His mission is simple – to inspire artists, to connect with his roots, and to create a movement, all through the universal language of music. In Morton’s own words, “It was a mental trip to not know how much family we have and how much home it is here, so I would tell people to come back and connect to something that we all know was taken from us, especially American artists. I just want to encourage people to embrace our people and realize that we’re more one than anything’’ he said.