Back in 2011, one night after
Morton said the crowds were more similar than you would think, thanks to Wayne's popularity with white audiences. The backstage area? That was a different story.
"I went to Wayne's show and it was mayhem backstage. There were a million people in the back, like 30 tour buses, and it was loud. The next day I was at the same venue with Maroon 5 and it was just us, quiet, almost like symphony music should be playing back there," Morton said Friday before an album-listening party at Pressure Point Recording Studios on South
Such is life for the 32-year-old Morton, a preacher's son who said he was the lone black student in his school from kindergarten through eighth grade and is now signed to the same label as hip-hop heavyweights Wayne, Drake and
"It was always that I wasn't black enough for urban departments and not 'pop' enough for pop departments," Morton said. "Some wanted to change me, but I wasn't down with that. I stuck to my guns."
Morton released music as an independent act and toured with his band. His main source of income, however, came from writing and producing for artists such as LL Cool J, Jermaine Dupri and India Arie. In 2010, he got a call about an opening with Maroon 5 that he said came at a time when he needed it the most.
"I was at my low point when they called," Morton said. "We'd been touring the same markets and had exhausted them. We weren't getting any bigger. I was like, 'This is the most I can do independently.' When I got Maroon 5, I felt like it was God helping me out. I was burned out and needed something different."
Morton joined Maroon 5 as a temporary replacement for Jesse Carmichael, first on tour and then on the band's 2012 album "Overexposed." He said he will now remain with Maroon 5 as the keyboardist even when Carmichael returns and will perform double-duty as the opening act on select dates during the band's tour with
"I could have never imagined when I was living in New Orleans 10 years ago that I would sign with Young Money," said Morton of the label. "I didn't have much in common with them."
Morton released his EP, "Following My First Mind," last year. It featured cameos by Wayne and Levine. His upcoming album features the Levine song, "Heavy," Busta Rhymes on "Never Get Over You" and Wonder, one of his music idols, playing harmonica on "Only One."
"It didn't need to be a full duet," Morton said of Wonder. "I just wanted his stamp of approval — a nod to me for keeping the type of music he does alive, in my way."
Heads up: The
About this week: Andy Cohen ("Watch What Happens Live") will sign copies of his book, "Most Talkative," Wednesday at
Sightings: Adam Levine had lunch Friday at Hub 51. Maroon 5 stayed at The James Hotel while in Chicago for Saturday's show at the Allstate Arena. ... Singer R. Kelly dined Thursday at Jellyfish. …