The stunning vocals of Broadway actress and soulful singer Morgan James will serenade Orange County at the Subaru Newport Beach Jazz Festival on June 4.
The New York-based singer-songwriter’s latest full-length album, titled “Memphis Magnetic,” was recorded live to analog tape in Memphis, and features original songs with an R&B and soul mix.
Before she hits the festival stage, James shared her biggest music influences, favorite Broadway shows, and challenges she has faced as a woman in jazz.
What will your audience experience at the Newport Beach Jazz Festival?
I am so happy to be returning to the Newport Beach Jazz Festival! I am bringing my amazing band with me, and we will be performing songs from my album Memphis Magnetic in addition to some of our favorite covers.
Who is your biggest influence in music?
It’s hard to pick one person, because so many incredible artists came before me and paved the way! Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone are tops for me.
Favorite Broadway show you’ve performed in, and why?
My favorite Broadway show I performed in was actually the show I did the very least in, and that is Motown: The Musical. Even though I had a small part (Teena Marie and some others), I got to be in a cast of such superstars and hear that amazing music every single night— that show was a real treat.
What is your most memorable career moment?
Performing at the Hollywood Bowl for the first time was one of my favorite memories. I also got to sing at the opening of Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, and that was exhilarating as well.
What is your all-time favorite song to perform?
It’s gotta be my signature tune: ‘call my name’ by Prince.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in jazz?
I think being a woman in the music business, regardless of genre, is difficult for many reasons. As a singer, I often have to fight to prove that I’m just as good a musician as other instrumentalists. As an independent artist, I have to constantly try to prove that I’m valid and powerful even though I don’t have a big label behind me anymore. Women are scrutinized for the way they look and for their weight and for the way they dress in a way that men are not scrutinized.
What can we look forward to from Morgan James in the near future?
I’m so happy that live music is back! I will be touring as much as I possibly can, and then this fall I’ll be going back into the studio to make a new R&B record. So keep your eyes and ears peeled for that!
Where: Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach
When: Saturday, June 4