Jacobe Swagerty Data News Weekly Contributor
While New Orleans native Paul Morton Jr., better known as “PJ Morton,” needs no introduction in his city, he will reintroduce himself and his work to his home community as the 2021-2022 artist-in-residence at Dillard University.
Fresh off the release of his 2021 Grammy-nominated Best Gospel Album: “The Gospel According to PJ”, the Award-Winning Recording Artist hopes to share his expertise in the record industry with students and the community where he first discovered his talents.
“I’m so excited to be partnering with Dillard University,” Morton said in a statement. “As both an HBCU graduate and a New Orleanian, it’s very important for me to pass on any and everything I can to educate and inspire,” said Morton who is a graduate of St. Augustine High School and Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga.
As an artist in residence, the “Gumbo” artist has joined together with the school to conduct master classes in music publishing, talent management, studio production and songwriting. Students will also work alongside the musician through internships that specialize in merchandising, videography and management, all critical areas that would benefit the new generation of independent artists.
“Residencies have a variety of objectives,” said Cortheal Clark, the Chair of Humanities at Dillard. “For example, this performance residency with PJ Morton introduces our students to the collaborative nature of the performing arts, to the arts of a particular culture, and to the arts as a professional career,” Clark said.
The residency would be structured to allow students to sample a series of different musical art forms or to be introduced to different genres within one art form, Clark explained.
The university hopes the residency will strengthen possibilities for students who wish to excel in creative careers. The two-time Grammy-Winning Artist would serve a critical role in supporting humanities programs that goes beyond simply education but career development and industry access and mentoring.
“PJ Morton is key to New Orleans building out a music economy, where we aren’t simply a City known for great live music performances, but people can do everything else related to the music industry,” said Dr. Walter Kimbrough, Dillard’s President.
“As Dillard works to strengthen our music industry program in line with the city, having PJ Morton as our first artist in residence is a big deal for us,” Kimbrough added.
The collaboration is one the administration believes will benefit the City, as students will get to work with a Grammy-Winning Artist to learn the ins-and-outs of the entertainment business in a unique way, Kimbrough said.
As much as the residency will deepen connections with Morton, through his songs, the community has been uplifted over the years by the music of this native son. They will now have more access to him as he gives back over this year.
“I believe this is the beginning of something special,” Morton said.