PJ Morton to Release New Album Inspired by His Transformational Trip Across Africa


June 4, 2024

“At times, we need things to spark new creation.”  

In celebration of Black Music Month, Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer PJ Morton spoke with Because of Them We Can about his upcoming album “Capetown to Cairo,” his recent trip to Africa, and the deep wellspring of Black music’s foundation.

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Morton’s latest single, “Smoke and Mirrors,” is more than just a catchy tune – it’s a gateway to a unique sonic experience inspired by his transformative journey to Africa.

“When we landed in Nigeria, it was Fela Kuti’s birthday…the last day of the Felabration,” the Morehouse alumnus recalls, referencing the annual festival honoring the legendary Afrobeat pioneer. “I went there and saw Femi Kuti’s performance and Mádé [Kuti], who is on the album. I was blown away by the vibe, the horns…It felt like home. It felt like New Orleans.”

This feeling of homecoming sparked a fire within Morton. “The song ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is about the music industry and a lot of the lies I was told,” he shares. “It’s like smoke and mirrors.”


Determined to create something authentic, Morton embarked on an ambitious experiment. “I wrote the album in 30 days,” he reveals. “It was an experiment to not write before I went to the continent and to not write after I left.”

The entire album was created in Africa, a decision fueled by a desire for connection and a yearning to explore his ancestral roots. “For one, I had just never been to Africa outside of North Africa,” Morton explains. “I had never been where my ancestors were taken from, west Africa or South Africa. Part of it was just me wanting to go.” 

Morton’s trip to Africa wasn’t just about connecting with his heritage; it was about reigniting his creative spark. “I had made a lot of music at this point,” he says, “At times, we need things to spark new creation.” 


The trip not only yielded a new album but also a deeper understanding of Black music’s global influence. “When you talk about the banjo, which became the guitar and…we talk about musical history,” Morton explains, tracing the evolution of African sounds into Jazz, R&B, and Rock and Roll. “All of this stuff is Africa. All of it is rooted there. That’s the foundation of it.” Morton’s own artistic journey reflects this rich landscape of Black music. From his gospel roots to his work in R&B, formerly being signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money, and performing pop with Maroon 5, he embodies the multifaceted nature of Black music. 

Morton’s artistic journey has been one of defying expectations. His upcoming book, “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning,” chronicles his journey through overcoming obstacles and pursuing his vision. He candidly discussed the challenges of being an independent artist early in his career, a time when major labels were the gatekeepers of success. “I remember going to every record label…every major record label and getting denied,” he shared. This period of his career is reflected in the lyrics of his 2017 song, “Claustrophobic.”

Despite the hurdles, Morton has carved a unique path, excelling as a solo artist, songwriter, producer, and collaborator. In reaching success, he saw the manifestation of two of his dreams–collaborating with Stevie Wonder and making history with Disney. Morton is now looking forward to exploring new creative avenues, much like he did with the upcoming “Capetown to Cairo” album.


With his new album on the horizon, a tour underway, and a Las Vegas residency with Maroon 5, fans will have many opportunities to see PJ perform live! Concert-goers can find out more about upcoming shows at PJMortonMusic.com

This Black Music Month, PJ Morton’s story reminds us of the power of ancestral connection, the enduring legacy of Black music, and the importance of staying true to your vision.

Cover photo: PJ Morton Releases New Album Inspired by His Transformational Trip Across Africa / Credit: PJ Morton


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