Bishop Morton is a visionary leader, accomplished author, renowned pastor and popular recording artist. When talking about his album he said “In my music I refuse to get stuck, I could just do the oldies all the time but I challenge myself … you have to go to the next level [in my music, in my church]. If you are going to make a difference … the future belongs to those who are open to positive change.”
Living the truth of those words, Morton releases BEST DAYS YET his 10th solo album and it features a first time collaboration with Grammy Award winning producer Donald Lawrence.
BEST DAYS YET is diverse but not confused. The songs reflect Morton’s command of a variety of styles. “I love variety and I don’t want to get locked into one style,” said Morton. “It is all on here … the different styles I like to embrace ‘the churchy style, the contemporary style, ‘worshipping style’ so many different qualities that each of the songs have.” But the album’s strength comes in the flawless combination of Morton’s strong vocals and Lawrence’s masterful vocal arrangements and production.
Morton expertly threads a common theme throughout the different styles so there is a definite sense of cohesion when listening to BEST DAYS YET from beginning to end. Resounding with themes of encouragement, hope and transformation, BEST DAYS YET opens with a timeless song for the church, the title track, “Best Days Yet.” Though studio-recorded, the song’s powerful instrumentation gives it a live feel.
Continuing the themes throughout are album cuts “Times Like These,” and upbeat “It’s Over.” And the highlight tying the theme together is the Kurt Carr-penned “Something Happens (Jesus)” which is pure gospel music. The vocals come together beautifully on the powerful song.
Bishop Morton calls BEST DAYS YET a “prophetic project.” It speaks right to the heart of society’s current issues. “When you think about ‘you ain’t seen your best days yet,’ I’ve seen so many depressed people in this recession … people who are about to give up,” said Morton. “I want to lift their spirits. [Let people] know they can succeed. If people really know that their best days are ahead, that things are changing in their life … That something [does] happens when you call the name Jesus. That is what I want people to get out of this album – for people to know something IS going to happen … it’s not going to stay the same if you trust God. It’s going to get better.”
There are stellar guest artists on BEST DAYS YET including Marvin Winans on “Things Are Changing.” “I love the contemporary vibe of this song but it has such an important message,” said Morton. Winans’ smooth and rich vocals over the cool groove make the song a standout.
Also on the album is the incomparable Karen Clark Sheard. A nod to Thomas Whitfield, an early mentor to Morton, “The Grass Withereth” is an absolute modern take on a classic. “Thomas Whitfield produced one of my first national CD’s and he saw something in my music way back then,” said Morton. “He was really a genius before his time and for Donald Lawrence to come in and take it to the next level.”
Achieving a definitive release with BEST DAYS YET, Morton makes the album a family affair working with his son, PJ and daughter Jasmine Morton-Ross. PJ, well known for his amazing songwriting pens several songs on the album lending his signature sound. PJ’s hit “Go Through” and “The Promise” led by Jasmine are high points. “I am so proud of her [Jasmine]” said Morton. “I really want to see her do her own project, she’s so gifted and I love her voice that I think it’s time for her to go to the next level in music.”
Morton went on to explain, “working with my children is very key to helping keep relevant … [my son] who produced several songs … gave me one of the greatest compliment saying ‘hey Dad you still got it’ I tried to hang on in there … of course it was a different experience for me for him to produce some of my songs.”
“I love singing and am so excited about what I do, Morton continued. “I just believe there so much more in helping others … like my daughter and son who are carrying on the mantle for me.”
BEST DAYS YET is well rounded, powerful and encouraging. As he does in his role as pastor & Bishop, Morton lifts people’s spirits through this album them honest messages of hope. “There is so much in each of the songs,” he said. “I want them to really minister to people [they] need hope in this day and time. The songs really center around that.”
Bishop Paul Morton is the International Presiding Bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship and Sr. Pastor of Changing a Generation church in Atlanta, GA. With over 30 years of singing and recording, Morton has plans to start a new season in his life.
He announced recently his retirement from Presiding Bishop of FGBCF in 2015 as well as retire from pastoring in 2020. Morton won’t rest on his laurels. His legacy is pass on his vast knowledge. “I want to share with people the experience I’ve had in life … I want to be able to teach in school … show people how to be successful,” Morton said. “I have the experience of longevity and know how to make success last.”
On December 11, 2009, Billboard Magazine named her the No. 1 Gospel Artist of the last decade. In the same chart, her album Mountain High...Valley Low was acknowledged as the best gospel album.
Hawkins gave very little thought to a career in music until 1968. In an attempt to raise money to send the Ephesian Church of God in Christ's youth choir, directed by Edwin Hawkins, to a convention in Washington, D.C., Hawkins helped the group record an album, Let Us Go into the House of the Lord. Although initial plans called for the album to be sold locally, it became an international success when a single, "Oh Happy Day," sold more than a million copies. The group subsequently toured as the Edwin Hawkins Singers.
In the early '70s, Walter Hawkins left the group to pursue a career on his own. After earning a Master of Divinity degree from the University of California in Berkeley, he founded the Love Center Church in Oakland. Two years later, he returned to the Ephesian Church of God in Christ to record an album, Going Up Yonder, with the Love Center Choir. In addition to continuing to work with the Love Center Choir, Hawkins periodically collaborated with his brother and other family members. While he joined his brother to record an album with the Oakland Symphony, he wrote and produced an album, Baby Sis, for his youngest sister, Lynette, in 1985. The same year, he wrote and produced one tune, "Everybody Ought to Know," on The Search Is Over, the debut solo studio album by his wife, Tramaine Hawkins. In 1988, he joined with the Hawkins Family to record the album Special Gift. Three years later, he co-produced and served as musical director and arranger for a Grammy-winning album, Tramaine Live, by his now ex-wife.
Hawkins worked with other artists as well. Together with the Love Center Choir, he performed on albums by Van Morrison and Lee Oskar. On his own, he worked with Diahann Carroll, Sylvester, and Jeffrey Osborne. In 1985, Hawkins wrote and produced three songs for the Williams Brothers' album Hand in Hand. During the 1990s, Hawkins was back leading the Love Center Choir on the Grammy-nominated Love Alive V: 25th Anniversary Reunion, released in 1998. His catalog was revitalized in the new millennium, with a number of reissues and an all-new recording, the Stellar Award-winning Song in My Heart, in 2005. Hawkins underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2008, but was well enough to join a subsequent Hawkins Family reunion concert tour. A sixth "Love Alive" recording was being planned for fall 2010 when Walter Hawkins succumbed to the pancreatic cancer at his home in Ripon, CA on July 11 of that year, at the age of 61.