First Listen: Samara Joy and PJ Morton brighten our day

(March 8, 2024) Samara Joy and PJ Morton know where they will be in early February. The woman who is the heir to jazz singers like Ella, Sarah and Billie and the man who is indie soul and gospel royalty can be penciled into a seat at the Arena where both will be nominated for a winning one of those Gramophone trophies.

Joy earned three in the last two years, while Morton has won five since 2019. Perhaps they talked about working together at one of those swanky parties. If that was the case, those discussions bore fruit as Joy and Morton collaborated on “Why I’m Here,” the lead single from the from the soundtrack from the Netflix biopic “Shirley.” The film focuses on the 1972 presidential run by New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black woman to be elected to Congress.

Joy and Morton make a pairing that is more likely than it appears. Joy is a jazz chanteuse who made her name reinterpreting the Great American Songbook, while most fans know Morton for his great indie soul albums and the many gospel songs that he’s penned.

Joy has proven that she is a master of interpretation on her covers of pop songs like Adele’s “Someone Like You,” and Morton has a penchant his soulful reimaginations of pop songs such as “How Deep Is Your Love.” That means both artists are unafraid to move out of their respective lanes.

As a writer of songs that proclaim the good news of the gospel, Morton is familiar with making songs that carry an inspirational message like the one heard in “Why I’m Here.” And it would be hard to find any more qualified than a jazz singer to perform a number where you want listeners to hear every word. Right now there is no jazz singer hotter or better than Samara Joy. Check out “Why I’m Here” by Samara Joy and PJ Morton here.

By Howard Dukes


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