Updated: May 4
Her career includes working as the backup singer for artists like Chaka Khan, Melba Moore, and Whitney Houston. During the mid-1980s/1990s, Meli'sa Morgan rose to fame as a soul and R&B diva. She went on to carve out her own success as she launched into the solo world, achieving great success with her hit singles, "Do Me, Baby", "Do You Still Love Me", "Love Changes," and "Still in Love with You.". She is a highly respected singer! I interviewed her last year and was blown away by her talent. This is what she told me about her journey through the world of music.
Give me a little bit about your background. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? I was born and raised in Queens, NY in a middle-class family. I have one brother and one sister. Although we share the same mother, I have a different father. My parents made sure that we regularly attended the church across the street from our home. I had a joyous childhood filled with singing and dancing. This was something that occurs often in our home. This is where my passion for entertaining began. My sister and I used to enjoy dressing up to entertain my mother's friends. One time my mother told us if we did a great job, she would take us to audition for the Apollo Amateur night. We love singing songs from, “The Supremes songs and Aretha Franklin. Although we made good on our promise to our mom to deliver great performances, she never took us to audition.
Later, in my professional career as a singer, I got the opportunity to perform several times at “The Showtime at The Apollo” TV show.
These are the events that sparked my interest in the music business. Anytime there was an opportunity for me to show my singing abilities I took advantage of those open doors. While in school, I sang in talent shows and participated in forming groups. I continued until I linked up with hey Gospel Choir, ``THE STARLETS OF CORONA”. While singing in this choir, my vocal skills grew exponentially. There is no greater vocal education than singing in a gospel choir! This is where you learn how to blend with other voices by harmonizing, perfecting tone, and staying in key. All these events collectively sparked my interest in wanting to become a recording artist and R&B superstar.
What was the most memorable moment in your music career? Some of the events that happened during the onslaught of my career were my most memorable. Singing in the bands and clubs around NY city afforded me the opportunity to meet a plethora of musical legends such as Legends Patti Labelle, The Isely Brothers, and more. What was also amazing, I got a call to audition as a background singer for my idol, CHAKA KHAN. I was chosen as one of her background singers and toured with her for an entire year on the “AIN’T NOBODY’ Tour. I learned a lot. I gained a wealth of knowledge just watching her in action and because of this experience I grew as a vocalist. I knew after working with Chaka Khan I was ready to go and Perdue my Solo Career. After the “Chaka Khan” tour ended, I chose not to continue pursuing a career as a background vocalist.
What was your most challenging moment? Transitioning from a background singer to a solo artist was challenging. Because of my highly experienced vocal skills, I was high in demand. Although I was flattered by their request, I had to turn down a lot of background work.
When I signed my first solo recording deal with. “Capitol Records”. I was ready. The first single I was asked to record was a song written by “Prince”, called, “Do Me Baby”. This song became was placed on my first album. Because I was only 19, I didn't want my first single to be a sexual song. Being so young, I was uncomfortable with singing a song that was so seductive. Another challenge for me was my delivery and how to make the listening audience believe why I was singing. I was so determined that I came up with a method and how I would power through the recording of this song. So, I went into the studio, closed my eyes, and imagined I was someone else sexier than I was but had my voice. It was like an out-of-body experience. Nailed it! “DO ME BABY'' went #1 for 4 weeks on the Billboard charts and was one of my biggest hit records.
Who are your musical influences?
I like the Old School artists like Marvin Gaye whose messages from his songs still ring true today. In my opinion, Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin are two of the best vocal powerhouses in the music industry. I love Diana Ross and how she broke barriers with her style and class. I sang on Whitney Houston’s first album. Who could not be influenced by her? Not only did I admire her unmatched vocal abilities and style, but I appreciated her friendship.
If you could do a duet and or have someone, write a song for you from your favorite artist, dead or alive, who would it be? I would have to say, Marvin Gaye. I really admired his writing skills on his album, “WHAT’S GOING ON”. I thought it was Brilliant! Another artist that I really admire is “Babyface”. I love his vocal delivery and I think he is a phenomenal songwriter. I would like to sing a duet with Johnny Gill or Avant.
What is the last song you’ve listened to by another artist and who are your present favorites? Believe it or not, I've been listening to a lot of David Ruffian’s music. I really like his version of “I MISS YOU”. I think he is a phenomenal singer. I really enjoy listening to his recordings with “The Temptations”. Unbelievable vocals! Every song David Ruffin recorded is a classic! I also enjoy listening to, Doja Cat and the new Johnny Gill music. I like great songs with great vocals. I listen to all types of music.
What was your most embarrassing moment while at a live performance or interview? I dropped a microphone once on stage and I felt embarrassed. But that has happened a few times now! Especially if I'm singing on a corded mic. My preference is to sing on wireless microphones. For some reason, I’m rough on microphones. I'm so used to seeing on wireless microphones, if I have a corded one sometimes, I forget any interest in them whereas the court becomes loosened, and if they have a cord on them when I am in the moment, I forget and pull on them and the cord comes out!
One time, while performing, my ponytail started unraveling. I just held it in place and kept singing! LOL! Now, that was an embarrassing moment! Luckily, it did not fall off. The issue was resolved after the show.
There was another incident where I was invited to a live interview. However, it did not turn out as expected, because the person who interviewed me began insulting me. I almost cried but I managed to hold it together. I soon realized that means they brought me on the shelf to humiliate me, but I did not allow them to do so. I never let anyone break me down. There are people in this world that will try their hardest to bring you down because of your strength and success, but you must be determined not to allow them to succeed in that mission. Although it's not right, it's very common in the music business. You have to be very careful with who you choose to become friends with within this industry. So, I guess it was more hurtful than embarrassing but I felt embarrassed being in that situation.
How many singles/albums do you have out presently and are there any projects in the works? I have recorded 6 albums. Do Me Baby, The Lady in Me, Still In Love, I Remember and Love Demands.
I am starring in a new movie called “FOOTPRINTS OF AN ANGEL’. I have the lead song/single coming out soon for the movie as well. I am extremely excited about this. My first movie role! The movie will be out in 2021.
What are your either weird habits or traditions before performing live or recording? I always Pray. I try to clear my head of all influences. I want my mind to be blank, so I have a clear head and canvas in my head to create something new. I like to combine my vocals and mind. Whenever I sing, I combine my vocals and my mind! I always want to make sure that I am mentally clear and free of disruptions. I also like to drink honey & lemon. This concoction helps to soothe my vocal cords.
What advice would you like to give to upcoming artists? Do your research. Study your craft and gift whatever it may be. Practice and always keep learning how to do something different and creative with your gift. I know my singing voice is a gift from God. Never take that for granted and Always be Thankful that you were chosen.
Also, find balance in your life. Having a musical gift and talent can be so consuming. I suggest finding other hobbies. I like crocheting, cooking, and gardening. I like decorating and renovating homes. You must love your gift and be dedicated but you also must enjoy living your life and treasure life. Spending quality time with your loved ones. Having love in your life is essential. I am engaged and spending time with my fiancé is priceless. Don’t let this music industry consume you to the point of you forgetting that this is called the Music Business for a reason. It is a business, a job. Even though it is a job that most of us really
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Contact Melisa Morgan
Meli'sa Morgan Photographer:
SABASTIN COMMAS FOR ASILEM PRODUCTIONS
(COVER PHOTO/GRAMMY PHOTO/ PERFORMANCE PHOTO’S)
All additional photo’s credit:
FROM MELI’SA MORGAN’S PHOTO ARCHIVES