Multi-Award-winning R&B singer/producer and Maroon 5 keyboardist, PJ Morton, has broken Kanye West’s summer-long hold on the top spot of Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums consumption chart with his new digital album, Gospel According to PJ (Morton Inspiration/ Tyscot). The all-star set interrupts the 18 consecutive weeks at #1 that West’s gospel soundtrack, Jesus is King, enjoyed. “I’m overjoyed that Gospel According to PJ is #1,” Morton says. “This album was a labor of love, so for people to be supporting it the way they are, lets me know that it was truly, ‘All in His Plan’. Thank you to every single artist, musician and engineer that was a part of making this album. Thank you to every single radio station that has been playing the music and lastly, thank you to everyone at Morton Inspiration and Tyscot Records.”
The thirteen-track set of Urban Adult Contemporary-styled tracks features gospel legends that Morton grew up idolizing such as Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Commissioned, Mary Mary, J Moss, Kim Burrell and The Clark Sisters. It also showcases a new generation of luminaries like Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Smokie Norful, Travis Greene, Zacardi Cortez, Brian Courtney Wilson, Travis Greene, Jermaine Dolly, Darrel `MusiqCity’ Walls, Lena Byrd Miles and Le’Andria Johnson. The radio single, “All in His Plan,” a ballad featuring Le’Andria Johnson & Mary Mary, topped Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart last week.
“The structure is fascinating,” music critic Ann Powers told fellow critic, Stephen Thompson, of the album on an August 28th NPR “New Music Friday: All Songs Considered” podcast. “It really tells the story of PJ Morton’s life in gospel… His family heritage. His connection to the genre … He is connected to gospel in the way that Aretha [Franklin] was connected to gospel, but this album also tells the story of contemporary gospel itself… I think PJ does a great job showing how R&B, Soul Music, Rock & Roll – all live through gospel. I think that’s all here on this record. Oh, and of course, New Orleans music. It matters that he’s from New Orleans.”
Many are hailing the R&B star’s project as a return to his church roots in the same vein of Aretha Franklin’s 1972 spiritual homecoming, Amazing Grace. It’s also a showcase for Morton’s songwriting, arranging and production skills. “This is far from being a solo record,” Jim Harrington wrote in The Mercury News. “It’s probably more helpful to think of Morton operating in a Quincy Jones-style role — writing songs, finding the right voices for those songs — than it is to think of him as a typical solo artist here. He’s often working behind the scenes, orchestrating specific songs to their artful culminations while keeping a bird’s eye view of the overall project.”
The singer best-known for his Grammy winning 2019 R&B smash, “Say So” (with JoJo), and his brilliant re-imagining of the Bee Gees‘ 1977 classic, “How Deep is Your Love” (which has garnered over 25 million streams); recorded the majority of the project from his New Orleans studio hub at the height of this summer’s coronavirus national lockdown. In a year of racial tensions, political divisions and a global health crisis; Morton wanted to offer some musical inspiration to lighten the heaviness of 2020. “I’d like to think it all kind of happened the way that it was supposed to,” he muses. “I feel people need this music that inspires more than ever right now.”
A physical configuration of “Gospel According to PJ” will hit brick-and-mortar retail shops and online platforms such as Amazon.com on Black Friday, November 27th.