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Judge for Morley Music

London, United Kingdom
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Portrait of Morley Music
Morley exudes radiance and warmth, with hints of mystery and intrigue. Her pop, urban folk songs are simultaneously spiritual, sensual and down-to-earth, with a soulful, internationalist bent. "A lot of the music that Im drawn to is about growth and transformation. I believe in people's capacity to change." A former teacher of dance and yoga in New York City's Public School system, shelters and community centers, Morley was born in Jamaica Queens, New York. She spent her formative years absorbing the sights, scents and sounds of Parsons Boulevard's multi-ethnic community--an experience that clearly informs her worldview and the diversity of influences in her music. Morley attended dance classes in addition to her study of the martial arts. At the age of ten, she was enrolled in the United Nations School, where she and her young friends made up dances. "We would dance to Prince, especially to Purple Rain. We wore that record out! We would make up dances to his lyrics so the dance would shape the story. Ten years later, I realized those dances were similar to the social dances of indigenous cultures, any dance that tells the story of the culture. And we didn't know. We just made them up! That's really what started the choreography." The stories of diverse culture and inclusion told in those dances are consistent with the stories she tells in her songs. Morley points out- - "Nothing is really new. In realizing that, you reinterpret the lasting and living traditions in a personal and intimate way... in it I hear echoes of my teachers / companions, Olatunji, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Daniel Lanois, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Mercedes Sosa, The Beatles, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Bob Marley and Toshi Reagon, etc...." In her teens, Morley spent three years at Washington D.C.'s Duke Ellington School of the Arts, she came back to New York and won a full scholarship to Alvin Ailey's Dance Center. After a year's time, she suffered a knee injury, which derailed her dance career. Unclear about her next move, she drifted until she was approached one day in a cafe. "Someone came up to me and asked if I would be interested in modeling," she explains. "He gave me his card. It turned out he worked for a reputable agency. I went there, did a photo shoot and they signed me. Then I went to England to do some modeling." "After a month in London, I was walking down the street one day, with my face and hair all done up. I had just finished a shoot. I stopped to look at the clothes hanging in the window of a boutique, and I saw a girl in the window. The girl startled me because I realized it was my own reflection! I didn't recognize myself and said 'Oh no, that's not me!' So I crossed the street and I think it was fate because there was this little punk rock girl on the corner giving haircuts for 3 pounds. I told her to cut it off, shave it ALL off! I put my nose ring back in, looked in the mirror and said, 'Yeah, that's me.'" "I gave up modeling and returned to the U.S." she continues, "At the time, I felt I was contributing to a concept of beauty that wasn't real. That standard is so limited. Back in New York, Morley began to spend time with an old pianist friend from High School. He exposed her to the inner world of jazz. He taught me the difference between listening to music and hearing it. He taught me to be in the presence of music, to get inside of it." "He sat there with me for a couple of days and played all this music. We didn't talk. We listened. All he'd say was 'Check this out; this is Monk, Max, Coltrane. This is Mingus, this is Carmen, Betty, Duke.... It really affected the way I heard my surroundings. I began to hear social frustration. I really began to hear a cry for truth in music, a cry for healing. And I began to hear that cry for courage within myself." In response, Morley returned to the Alvin Ailey Dance Center and began to choreograph; incorporating spoken-word and song. Later, she co-founded The Undercurrents Dance Theater, a multi-media company. This experience culminated in collaboration with Max Roach, Ossie Davis, Baba Olatunji and Cassandra Wilson for the 30th Anniversary of the protest album We Insist! In between teaching, writing poetry, choreography and (the obligatory) waiting tables, Morley began to write songs. "Slingshots" was her first. It appears on her debut Sun Machine (Sony/WORK). She wrote it with her producers Hod David (who also penned songs for Maxwell) and Chris Dowd (ex-Fishbone) Equal parts Sade, Maxwell, Crosby, Stills & Nash, "Neo-soul", and Curtis Mayfield quiet fire spirit-cosmic, Sun Machine was hailed by pop and adult alternative reviewers alike. Although the WORK group folded as her CD was released, several songs from that CD were placed on scores for television. Morleys toured with the widely-hailed Lilith Fair and other artists such as; Neil Finn, Dave Matthews, Raul Midon, Amadou et Mariam and has performed for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela in Capetown, South Africa, and at Carnegie Hall with David Amram for Eco-Fest. Morley participated in the Tribute to Joni Mitchell at Symphony Space and sold out the Thalia Theater there. Shes toured Europe in the musical, The Temptations of St. Anthony and sang along side Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon on the soundtrack for the HBO special, Beah Richards, and A Black Woman Speaks. Morley was the recipient of the Abe Olman scholarship for excellence in song writing, representing ASCAP and performed at the 60th anniversary of the UN with the Children of Agape. "With no religious connotation, there's a mix of the spiritual and the sensual in my music", muses Morley, "I join them together because I believe them to be from the same source: love". Morley continues to cultivate a loyal and diverse following of fans. Her sophomore recording, Days Like These was written, arranged, and produced by Morley, (licensed by Circular Moves US and Universal Music France 2006). Co-produced with Ken Rich and multi Grammy®-winning engineer Jay Newland (Norah Jones), Days Like These is a sultry mix of soul, folk, R&B, and otherworldly flavors creating a sumptuous brew that will stimulate your senses and penetrate your soul..
 
 
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