Biography – October 2018
When James Morrison broke onto the scene as a soulful singer-songwriter in 2006 even he couldn’t have predicted that he would become the template that allowed a wave of likeminded musicians to enter the field. Now, almost ten years on, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, George Ezra and James Bay are all crowding the charts, following the same format; one guy with a great, soulful voice and a guitar. They’ve all cited him as an influence but does Morrison take some credit for paving the way? “I don’t really see it like that, I was just lucky to be one of the first”.
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Despite his self-deprecation and humble nature, he really was the first to take that format and not only make it work but also became an overnight success story. Pop gems like ‘You Give Me Something’ from his first record ‘Undiscovered’, made him anything but and he won the 2007 BRIT Award for Best Male when he was still just 21 years old. He was also told by the veteran soul producer Jerry Wexler that his raspy, gravelly voice, the product of a childhood illness, had its “own thumbprint” and was so distinctive that “once heard, never forgotten”.
Since then, other artists have spoken about their admiration for him; Gary Barlow was his label mate on Polydor back in 2006. Barlow has said:
“He continually writes and performs world-class songs and it’s been an absolute joy watching his career go from strength to strength.” Others also confessed the profound influence he has on them, John Newman being one of those, saying “James Morrison was one of the first UK artists I looked to when I was becoming a singer myself. His voice is simply incredible and I made point of seeing him live every time he came to Leeds…I’m actually not sure, even with all his success, he’s ever had the full credit for his talent.”
More recently, James Bay said of Morrison, “James is one of my earliest inspirations. Amongst everything that was going on in pop music, to suddenly hear a voice that delicate, that soulful and that powerful behind just an acoustic guitar was everything I’d been waiting for.”
The 34-year-old singer-songwriter has now sold 4.5 million copies of his three albums, performed four world tours including sold-out shows to thousands at London’s Hyde Park, supporting both Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder and appeared on Herbie Hancock’s Grammy-winning album ‘The Imagination Project’.
2008’s ‘Songs for You, Truths for Me’ brought with it a string of Top Ten singles, including the phenomenally catchy ‘Broken Strings’ with Nelly Furtado, with his last album, 2011’s ‘Awakening’ shooting straight to number one, selling over one million copies worldwide.
But in spite of his phenomenal success, the singer-songwriter from Rugby, Warwickshire has never really been able to appreciate how well he’s done. He has a tendency to depression, although he strives to ignore it.
“Most of the time I am upbeat and positive but making [this] album has tormented me.” he says of his 2015 album ‘Higher Than Here’.
Now, in 2018, Morrison has made a brand new album that is his most honest and powerful set of songs yet. To be released in 2019, the album explores his relationship, being a father and his family, as well as his experiences with dark times and light. Recorded at British Grove and Metrophonic Studios and produced by Mark Taylor (Lady Gaga, Nelly Furtado, Kylie Minogue), the album sees the return of James Morrison to his soulful best.