Tonight, the sixth annual BET Honors TV special will present a who’s who of Urban music such as Mariah Carey, Karen Clark Sheard, Tamar Braxton, Janelle Monae and Smokey Robinson saluting the achievements of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin; Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jr.; American Express CEO & Chairman, Ken Chenault; visual artist, Carrie Mae Weems and entertainment trailblazer, Ice Cube. However, one of the behind-the-scenes mainstays who has helped each year’s musical lineup shine is piano-playing organist P.J. Morgan who has a long history with BET and has played in the shows’ Ray Chew and the Crew band since its inception in 2008.
“I love what I do,” says Morgan, who is also the director of music for the 3,000 member Reid Temple A.M.E. Church in Glendale, MD. “I look forward to this event every year. It’s like spring break for me.” Over the years, Morgan’s inspired ivory-tinkling has backed the likes of Stevie Wonder, India Arie and Aretha Franklin on The BET Honors and fans of the program can witness Morgan in performance mode on Monday, February 24th @9:00 p.m. EST when the annual TV special airs on BET.
Aside from his regular duties with BET and a recent stint performing behind Patti Labelle and others on the “Super Bowl Gospel Celebration” TV broadcast, Morgan is preparing to step on to center stage himself with a jazz-inflected album of gospel hymns that will release later this year. “My roots are gospel but I was always influenced by Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and those kinds of artists,” he adds. “I’m going to do 6-7 hymns and then do jazz renditions the way I hear them in my head. I already know who I want to have sing the songs. A lot of churches don’t even do hymns because the musicians don’t know them… I’m fortunate to have grown up in the middle of the old school and this new school generation so I know the old stuff and I think I’m hip enough to keep up with what’s going on now but the hymns of the church will never die and that’s part of what I’m here for.”