Music serves as the backdrop of our lives in so many ways. It is our solace in times of need, our energy when we feel that urge to get up and dance, and a head-shaking, feel it deep in your heart and down in your soul type of vibe that keeps us coming back over and over again to the hits that capture our attention and leave a lasting impression.
R&B/Soul singer & songwriter Meli’sa Morgan does just that with her amazingly beautiful voice. A legend is putting it mildly. She got her start at a very early age singing in the Starlets of Corona gospel choir in Queens, New York and that shaped the foundation of what was to come for a very successful singing career. Releasing her cover version of Prince’s “Do Me Baby” in 1985, the song topped the Billboard charts at #1 for 4 weeks. Writing hit songs that you know very well; Do You Still Love Me, Fools Paradise, Good Love, and her latest song, “Footprints Of An Angel” which is currently #1 for 2 weeks on the BCFM Soul Charts & #3 on the UK Soul Charts. A platinum award-winning songwriter who has worked with Whitney Houston, Freddie Jackson, Chaka Khan and so many more. Fiercely talented, gifted, and unforgettable.
Her personality and spirit match her voice and that’s simply beautiful. She proves the magic and love for music are here to stay, and we are here to listen!
Born and raised in Queens, New York, you sang in a gospel choir, called the Starlets of Corona. Many singers and songwriters have given credit to their start in the church as the foundation for what was to come. Tell us about your childhood and how your experiences molded and prepared you for the music industry.
I loved being raised in Queens, NY. It was during the time when the neighborhood was a real neighborhood. Everyone knew each other, we all went to the same school. We visited each other homes. We knew their parents, they knew my parents. A great time to be a kid.
Yes, I sang with the Starlets Of Corona…. It was the best experience of my life. I could not have asked for a better foundation in my singing career. Hornrette Washington, the musical director saw something in me that I did not see in myself at the time. She saw my God-given gift of singing and the vocal skills that I had and did not even know I had. I could learn a song and sing it exactly like the record. Ms. Washington worked with me to bring out my vocal style. We sang in churches not only in the community but in Washington, DC, and other states. I stayed with the choir until my early teens.
Music has changed drastically throughout the years. My parents were part of the old school genre and I believe that is what set the tone for my musical taste. I find in some music today, the essence and feeling of what a song is truly about are missing. What is one element you feel is missing and needs to be brought back into the world of music?
I loved the Old School music because the artist’s delivered vocal performances on record that had such passion and truth. I grew up listening to artists who had such passion for the love of music and vocal styling. They prided themselves on sounding different from one another. It was not about “let me work to sound like the person that has a hit record out so I can get endorsements and be famous”. I think the true love of the artistry is missing. They think more about what they are wearing and look like than the love of the music. The music and delivering a great vocal performance that people believe and can relate to is missing. It is more about sounding like what is out there that is successful rather than being original and different but still creative.
Road trips are fun, however, it’s the music that keeps the ride interesting. If you were taking a cross-country road trip, what would we find in your playlist?
I love all types of music! I take long road trips cause I live in New York and I have a home in South Carolina. We take road trips frequently. I might listen to The Group Journey cause I LOVED lead Singer Steve Perry’s vocals on their recordings. I might listen to Sammy Davis, Jr.’s live recording of Mr. Bojangles. We listen to Drake, and then we might listen to one of the greatest records recorded of all-time Sia -Chandelier song. Of course… I will listen to my new song “FOOTPRINTS OF AN ANGEL”. It took me two years to finally release this song and I am so delighted it is getting a great response!
Songwriters often speak of needing to be in the zone and a certain mental and emotional space before they write a song. Is there a ritual you stick to when it’s time to crank out a hit?
No. Not at all!! Words and emotions with writing songs come from being around people and exploring life. Seeing things, learning, and experiencing different energy. So, whenever I have an idea for a song, I sing it on my iPhone immediately. Then I expand and work on the idea with who I am writing the song with. I have written many hits:
DO YOU STIIL LOVE ME, FOOLS PARADISE, GOOD LOVE, as well as my new song “FOOTPRINTS OF AN ANGEL”. Now when I finish writing a song, I go into I guess a zone to think about how I am going to deliver the words and melody when I record it. That is the key to me… The recorded vocal delivery!!! That is what will be history and it’s important to me to make sure I give the best performance I can in the studio when I record.
You are a platinum award-winning songwriter. Working with artists like Mary J. Blige’s “Breakthrough” CD, Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt” CD, and LL Cool J’s “14 Shots to the Dome” CD. It has been said that songwriters do not always receive the credit they deserve. Do you find that to be true, and who are some of the artists you have collaborated with?
Well, being an artist that has recorded other songwriters songs. Like Prince when I recorded “DO ME BABY”. I think it is important to give a certain acknowledgment to the songwriters but it again is about the artist and their performance and delivery of the song that will make it a hit or not. Getting that right chemistry between the song and the artist! Great songwriters are so important to the music but without the artist that can turn that song into a personal believable experience on the track, it would be just a good written song. So credit needs to be given to both the songwriter and the artist. Songwriters get their biggest credits when they win awards like Grammy’s and especially when they have a hit record and receive their royalties… Lol! Every month when I receive my royalties, I feel real good and credited as a songwriter! I have collaborated with Najee and wrote the song ”IN THE MOOD”
With my fiancé Sabastin Commas on my last album and my newly released song. I have collaborated with Lesette Wilson on my first two albums.
Jay-Z with the remix of “CAN’T KNOCK THE HUSTLE”. Mary J. Blige has always told me since the first time I met her that she loves my vocals and songwriting. What an honor coming from her. I just love her and hope to record with her one day 😊🙏🏽. LL Cool J has always been so nice to me! Queen’s NY, my own! My songwriting journey in my career has been pretty good!
You have an amazingly beautiful singing and speaking voice. One of my forever favorite ballads is ‘Do You Still Love Me?’ which was released in 1986. A song is a classic when I can play it over and over and feel the same emotions as if it were the very first time. What does this song mean to you and how did you come up with the lyrics?
Thank you about the comment on my speaking and singing voice. I have been told that a lot. Someone said I talk like I sing. Wow. I got this tone I believe from my Mom, She had a kinda high pitched speaking Voice. I think it was inherited.
Yes, “DO YOU STILL LOVE ME?” Is one of my favorite songs that I have written and recorded. The lyrics from that song came from how I always feel most of the time. We all want to be loved and accepted, yet we don’t feel that way 80% of the time in our lives. We are constantly looking for acceptance and someone to Love us for who we are. Especially in relationships. This song and the lyrics were about asking the one you love “After all that we been through… Do you still Love me like you use to?” A question everyone in a relationship wants to know the answer to. Hopefully… YES!! 😊❤️. Again, great recorded vocal delivery sung with belief and passion is timeless. That feeling and emotion will touch people forevermore.
Who has been your biggest inspiration in life and music?
Let me first say God is my Biggest inspiration 😊🙏🏽 I have had some wonderful people that have been inspirations in my life….My Dad John P. Morgan and my Mom Margie Morgan. My Stepmother Rosa Morgan. Hornrette Washington who I talked about earlier. My step-brother Frankie Scott. My grandmother’s. Some of my aunts and uncles. Not all of them, but some of them. Musically… I have had the honor to work with most of my music inspirations…Chaka Khan who I sang background with and taught me so much. Patti Labelle who I met in my late teens and has been an inspiration to me, always. I toured opening for Patti Labelle in the U.K. a few years ago. KASHIF may he R.I.P. taught me so much about recording in the studio. KASHIF worked and inspired me to be a great vocalist. Whitney Houston who I sang with in the studio on one of the songs on her first album. I sang backgrounds on the song “THINKING ABOUT YOU” with her in the studio. We became friends and I just adored her and her beautiful spirit. There are so many but I just named a few.
Your voice is an amazing gift. I can’t imagine the pressure that comes along with that. Has there ever been a time when you felt overwhelmed by the success, and has it been difficult to step away from the limelight even if just for a bit to make sure you were taking care of yourself?
Thank you. Well, I asked and wanted to be a singer. So, I kinda take all the things that come with it. I think the pressure comes not from what I can do as a singer, but what other people and this industry expect me to do for them to determine if I am still successful or not. I think earlier in my career when I was trying to prove myself and my talent and wanted everyone to take me seriously as a legitimate Artist. The pressure was definitely there. It was me trying to prove myself to everyone that I am worthy! Everyone kinda goes through that phase in the music industry. I had to take a step back and talk to my family and regroup. For me, I had to remove some of the people around me that was putting that pressure on me. I am a very smart person. I have never really been taken advantage of in the business and financial part of my career. I dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”! So, financially I have managed myself and my career and life pretty well. When things got too unbearable for me, I did step away. I went to Aruba about 22 years ago and brought a place there that I could go to and get away from everyone. Especially on my birthday when I reflect the most on my life. I restructured my career and started my own company that I could manage myself and take care of all my productions, songwriting, recordings and it could be an umbrella to protect me and The MELI’SA MORGAN brand. Including my independent record label ASILEM which has just released my first new song and video “FOOTPRINTS OF AN ANGEL” I have homes in New York and South Carolina. I bought more land in South Carolina right before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit to build my dream home. I haven’t built it yet cause the Pandemic stopped the process. I am excited though about the whole journey with building a brand new home. What a blessing 🙏🏽
Outside of the love for music, what else are you passionate about and what does Meli’sa Morgan do to unwind?
Oh Wow… I love planting and designing flower gardens at my home in South Carolina. I love crocheting. I make beautiful blankets and scarfs. I am going to start selling them soon…. “Crochet by Meli’sa”. I do “MELI’SA FRUITSTICKS” and Chocolate covered strawberries. There is a restaurant in the South Carolina/Augusta, GA area called DESHAWN’S owned by my dear friends, James Brown’s Daughter Deanna Brown and her husband Shawn Thomas. They hire me to do my Chocolate Covered Strawberries for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and special holidays at the restaurant. It is so much fun for me. I do them for baby showers and special occasions for my friends and family. Then, I travel. I love swimming and water. So, my fiancée and I will go to Myrtle Beach and stay for a week or more. Virginia Beach. Of course, I have my place in Aruba and this year I am going to DUBAI.
Your resume is very eclectic. You went to modeling school in your teens and later went on to study at Juilliard’s School of music and took acting classes at the Lee Strasberg Acting School. Where does your drive and determination come from and what are your fondest memories from this time in your life?
I did all that…LOL! I forget sometimes. Yes, I did. My drive and determination come from wanting to learn and be better. At everything I do. If I don’t know, then I go to school to learn. That’s why I went to modeling schools, I entered Hal Jackson’s Talented Teen Contest, I went to Juilliard’s to study Music Theory. I went to Lee Strasberg school of acting because I had stage fright and I wanted to open up and express myself on stage. It worked! Now, after all this time I am co-starring in my first movie! “Footprints of an Angel”. I play a mother who loses her daughter to Cancer. I sing in the movie and it is a very emotional role. So all that training has helped me immensely.
I love to be ‘in the know’ with my favorite artists, it serves as a small glimpse into their lives. Can you tell us what you are working on next and what we can look forward to and when?
Well, my new song and video “FOOTPRINTS OF AN ANGEL” is out now on my independent label ASILEM. It is being received so well. It is also the theme song for the movie I am co-starring in coming out this summer. The next song released will be a gospel song from the movie. I am working on my EP that will come out early next year. Building my new home and just living and enjoying my life. I have no complaints about who I am or my life. After this Pandemic that the world went through and all the people we lost and that did not make it. I have no complaints… I feel so blessed.
Music has served as the backdrop of so many lives. The times when we are happy, moments of sadness, great celebrations, or when we are singing in the shower pretending we can sing too. What do you hope and wish your mark in the music industry has left in the heart of your listeners?
I hope my music leaves truth in the heart of my listeners and fans and people. I don’t sing about things I don’t believe. I sing about truth in life, truth in Love, truth in emotions, and truth in feelings and passions. So, I hope my music touches and helps people see the truth, feel the truth and embrace the truth.
As a fan, I am honored and beyond grateful to have this opportunity to speak with you. A true legend, a powerhouse in this grand world of music, and a voice that will bring you to your knees. I’m giving you all of your flowers because you deserve that and more. In closing, can you leave us with a few words to live by and an inspirational vitamin?
Well, I live by “Don’t let Anyone steal your Joy”!!! You are your own best friend and you can do anything you put your mind to. Believe in yourself and Believe in Love.” Go after your dreams. Travel, learn, and enjoy!!! Be good to yourself.
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AJ is a creative writer and storyteller writing from her home in Indiana.
"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman