PHOTO CREDIT: Ebet Roberts  



I have been spending time with Morley


PHOTO: Sandrine Lee

as she tells me about her forthcoming album, Thousand Miles (out on 5th October). She discusses the influence of New York’s Queens on her writing; how she came to music and what sort of sounds inspire her – Morley recommends some rising artists to follow.

I ask whether a U.K. tour is possible and which albums have impacted her most; if she gets time to unwind outside of music; whether music can bring people together and resolve disputes – she chooses a brilliant track to end the interview with.


Hi, Morley. How are you? How has your week been?

Greetings! I am well, thank you. My week has been wonderful; packed with music and gatherings (a real need in these times).

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

I’m a singer, composer and poet. I write on the guitar, piano and percussion. I’ve made six studio albums of original material independently as well with major labels. My music is conscious; political, love and justice-driven…it addresses lust, love; loneliness, loss and the willingness to begin again. I am deeply influenced by global rhythms; Folk, Soul and Jazz. You can hear this in my music. I am very VERY lucky to be surrounded by genius and innovative musicians to collaborate with - this you hear in my music as well (smiles).

Thousand Miles, your album, is out on 5th October. Are there particular themes and ideas that inspire the music?

Courage, surrender; dignity, self-transformation; friendship and love. It is a culmination of songs after two years of global travel to post-conflict regions.

Do you find music can resolve conflict and bring people together? Does modern political turmoil affect the way you write?!

Music reveals our borderless hearts. Two people cannot speak at the same time to each other, but they can sing together. Two people may not be able to stand next to each other in the same room but they can certainly dance in the same room. I’ve seen it happen time and time again so, yes, music brings people together... 

Yes. My writing is always affected by what is happening politically, socially and communally. It is natural to be connected to the world around us and if I don’t write about it: I feel unnatural and can get very overwhelmed. Music brings me together with my own wellness in this way.


PHOTO CREDIT: Ebet Roberts

How did growing up in Queens affect the way you write music and approach people? Is it a part of New York that seems to encompass every walk of life?

Queens is home to immigrants from all over the globe and a key component of New York City's melting pot. As a youth, I shared food, songs and dances with my friends…finding my reflection in others that are ethnically and culturally different than myself greatly informed the way I grew up, my writing and my thinking. It gave me insight of how similar we all are.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Sandrine Lee

In terms of musicians; what sort of stuff are you into? Who were you raised on?

Prince, David Bowie; Jeff Buckley, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Mercedes Sosa , Sweet Honey in the Rock; Toshi Reagon, Joan As Policewoman; Somi, Meshell Ndegeocello; Meklit Hadaro, Daniel Lanois; Nina Simone, Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen

What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?

To do everything I can to help get people out to vote in our election.


 PHOTO CREDIT: Sandrine Lee

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?

When I played the Nice Jazz Festival in Monaco with my good friend John Andrews on guitar, it was drizzling (it was outdoor concert) and the people were very far from the stage; seeking shelter from the rain. But, we just plugged in to get ready to play since it was still safe to do so. As soon as we started, people began to move towards the stage. By the end of our set, there were over a thousand people with us.

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)? 

Nina Simone - Live at Ronnie Scott’s

Because of her songs God and King of Love - and how she sang it on that particular night. 

Mercedes Sosa - 30 Años

Because of how the crowd is with her.

Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

Because it is everything that ever was.


  PHOTO CREDIT: Sandrine Lee

Can we see you tour soon? Where are you playing?

Working on it.

Will you come to the U.K. and play here?

Working on it. Can’t wait to return to the Barbican. I was there a few years back opening for Raul Midon at the London Jazz Festival.

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Stevie Wonder. 1 d.i. box 1 mic on boom stand.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Write what you feel, tell the truth about it; do not compromise your vision.


IN THIS PHOTO: Be Steadwell

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Be Steadwell; Benjamin Clementine and Las Cafeteras.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Benjamin Clementine/PHOTO CREDIT: Protsko Nikita 

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Not really, thankfully. I dance.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Lhasa De Sela’s - De Cara a la Pared


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