BWW Interview: Morgan James performs BERNSTEIN'S BEST with Colorado Symphony
The Colorado Symphony is bringing Broadway to Downtown Denver this weekend with a few days of Leonard Bernstein's best, featuring on the most powerful vocalists to emerge recently in musical theatre.
You might know beltress Morgan James from a few of her Broadway stints, 4 original Broadway companies since 2010, including her first in The Addams Family followed by the most recent Godspell revival.
She released her debut album, Hunter, back in 2014, and just finished writing a new one, which will begin recording in November. James also can be seen on YouTube with Postmodern Jukebox, adding her own silky touch to hits like Hozier's "Take Me to Church" and Aerosmith's "Dream On."
James, an Idaho native, previously performed with the Colorado Symphony at Fiddlers Green for July 4th concert last year. She's back for an evening of Leonard Bernstein, teaming up with conductor Teddy Abrams, music director for the Louisville Orchestra.
"I always feel like I'm at home in Colorado," James says of her western roots. She's currently on tour with her band, also has a few separate dates with Postmodern Jukebox.
"It's such a treat," she says about singing Bernstein. "I don't get to do this kind of music much anymore."
James and Abrams collaborated to choose music from Bernstein's songbook that told the best story, including pieces from Candide and MASS, which James has performed several times.
Concertgoers can of course expect Bernstein's well-known classics from West Side Story and On The Town, but James says a favorite is a cut song from On The Town called "Ain't Got No Tears Left." All three dance pieces from On The Town will also be featured.
"One of the most exquisite things Bernstein did was write full dance pieces for orchestra, so to hear it with an orchestra like the Colorado Symphony is just amazing," James says.
James has a classical background studying voice at Julliard, but her current style settles more into a soulful R&B flavor. After not finding much work as a soprano after school, she taught herself to belt and began to find more work in musical theatre.
"I didn't know I was a soul singer yet, but sometimes you just see those things unfold," she explains.
While she was working on her first Broadway show, The Addams Family, James started her first band. During her time in Motown: The Musical, she met Berry Gordy, who's the reason she snagged her first record deal and encouraged her to write her own music.
James signed with Sony during that run. "When I left Motown...I knew I had to start focusing on my solo career."
But James isn't opposed to a return to Broadway if the right project comes along.
"It would take something really special for me to stop touring with my band, because I really love that," she says. "Something new, written for me."
But as far as shows that already exists, she would love to be involved in a revival of The Secret Garden or perhaps She Loves Me..."but Laura Benanti already did that perfectly," James declares.
James says she loves working with the Colorado Symphony because of the orchestra's mentality for collaboration and development, which she says is rare.
"I'm excited to get back and pick their brains, and hoist myself upon them again."
"An Evening of Bernstein's Best," featuring Morgan James and conducted by Teddy Abrams, will have performances Friday, Sept. 30, and Saturday, Oct. 1, at 7:30pm as well as a 1pm performance on Sunday, Oct. 2. Tickets start at $29 and are available at ColoradoSymphony.org.