Chris Jasper Releases New Album; PJ Morgan Gets Transparent

Chris Jasper
Chris Jasper (Courtesy photo)

Chris Jasper, lead vocalist and songwriter on some of the iconic Isley Brothers’ biggest hits, said his new album is a “continuation” of his previous two offerings.

“My creative spillover … I kept going creatively,” Jasper said of “Dance With You,” his 15th solo album, which was released last month. “That happened with The Isley Brothers — we had an album every year.”

The Cincinnati native got his start with The Isley Brothers in 1973 as a songwriter, arranger and producer, as well as keyboardist and vocalist. He wrote such hits for The Isley Brothers as “Between the Sheets,” “For the Love of You” and “Fight the Power.”

Once the group disbanded in 1984, he and fellow members Ernie and Marvin Isley formed the trio Isley-Jasper-Isley. During that time he wrote such hits as “Caravan of Love,” “Brother to Brother” and “Different Drummer.” When Isley-Jasper-Isley disbanded in 1987, Jasper formed his own record label, Gold City Records, and released solo projects that included hits such as “Superbad.”

Asked how those hit songs come to him, he said, “Most times they come after practicing …ideas come. That’s how ‘Caravan of Love’ came. Some songs come in dreams. … Melodies come to me.”

Jasper studied classical piano at the age of 7 and after high school he moved to New York to study at Juilliard School of Music.

His sister Elaine was married to eldest Isley brother Rudolph, who founded the group with siblings Ronald and O’Kelly in 1973.

Though largely uncredited, the hits that Jasper made with The Isley Brothers helped them garner a Grammy Award win and nomination, ASCAP Award, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“In my solo career what I’ve done with my lyrics are consistent with God’s principles,” Chris said on a serious note.

Jasper holds a law degree, his wife Margie is a practicing lawyer and his son Michael is gearing up for the bar exam.

“The more you know the better off,” Jasper said about the business of music and the reason why he obtained his law degree. “I did not understand some of the legality. I wanted to understand the law. It makes you more aware of what you can and can not do.”

A career atop in the music industry for over 45 years shows us Chris Jasper knows more than most. He wrote and produced a song on Chaka Khan’s “CK” album, titled “Make It Last.” The “Dance with You” album offers 10 selections to remind you of The Isley Brothers sound he helped create.

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“It was time for another project,” said three-time Stellar Award-winning organist PJ Morgan about his new album, “The Transparency Project.”

PJ Morgan
PJ Morgan (Courtesy photo)

On why he produces his own music, Morgan said, “I am a producer. You have your own opinions on how it should be. [Producers] make them sound the best them, not the best me. It’s like living in your parents’ house. In my mind, I had strong opinions.”

“The Transparency Project” offers 10 selections of which my favorites are PJ’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Gone (Too Soon)” because Morgan’s vocals are heartfelt and “What a Friend (We Have in Jesus)” because PJ’s organ playing took me back to that old-school church experiences I had as a child.

The gospel artist started in the music business as keyboardist of jazz musician Ben Tankard and was promoted to his music director, helping Tankard build his record company. His credits include working with Bishop Paul Morton, Dorothy Norwood, Tramaine Hawkins, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Najee, Karen Clark Sheard, Bobby Jones and Yolanda Adams.

“I’m a teacher at Duke Ellington — music theory — to some of the brightest. It was a God-given job … I had nothing to do with getting the job,” PJ pointed out. “My first love was the organ. I watched three cousins play at my church. It sparked my interest.”

The jazz-laced gospel of “The Transparency Project” is influenced by his years working with gospel’s greats.

Eunice Moseley’s syndicated column, The Pulse of Entertainment, has an estimated weekly readership of over 1/4 million.

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