In a spring TLA performance, GoGo Morrow wore a tight, white, midriff-bearing skort set, giving the effect of something akin to a pop gladiator. Her hair’s cut short from the top down, but she whips a dramatically long bang back and forth, looking like an Emeli Sande vocal powerhouse with Rihanna swag. This fireball could be one of the next big talents to make a name for Philadelphia, and this summer is hers for the taking. We’ve heard one single thus far: “HD,” a nasty little hip-hop flavored R&B jam, and the video’s forthcoming. She’s set to show her mettle at a brand new annual July 4 celebration jam this week called The City Festival, hosted by Quincy “Q Deezy” Harris, easily one of her biggest headlining gigs to date. Morrow filled up the TLA on her own in April and has already held down some impressive opening spots, including at Jay-Z’s Made in America fest, last year’s Wawa Welcome America and Powerhouse 30. Her debut LP will hit streets later this year, but tonight, she drops a new single, “Potion.” Here’s hoping it catapults her into the stratosphere.
Born and raised in Philly, Morrow started singing at an early age, thanks to her talented father Reginald. (He used to sing in a group called the Golden Chandeliers; they mainly covered songs by the Four Tops and the Temptations, but performed some of their own material.) Daddy and daughter did call-and-responses all the time; he’d sing a note or lyric, then coach and tweak her reply. Morrow sang in her church’s choir, Evelyn Graves, at 55th and Chester, and worked her way into their musical and theatrical performances. She found herself not only a part of the now-defunct Prince Theater Rainbow Company, but walked over from school at 22nd and Chestnut every day and found the company’s legendary founder and director, Ricardo Martin, there to coach and encourage her.
After earning a degree in the music business from Millersville University—seriously, Millersville offers a Bachelor of Arts in music with an emphasis in music business and technology—Morrow started working to put herself through Drexel’s entertainment law program. “I got a job [at Drexel] to get the discount straight out of college,” she told PW. But there was something telling her that school, not singing, would be “something that would take years away from my life.”
She got an audition to sing backup for Kelly Rowland, didn’t get it, but got a call soon after asking her to sing background vocals for Lady Gaga on her Monster Ball tour. So she traveled the world and sang Gaga songs for months on end. Not bad practice for becoming a pop star. And Morrow’s got heat aplenty of her own.
With only a handful of songs, she puts everything into each one of them. Proudly performing alongside and in front of her Gogettes, a team of dancers made up of sisters and best friends from her performing arts high school days, they tear up the stage with spot-on choreography and sex appeal. “They’re pretty much always with me,” she assures. Good. They are a super-tight troupe, executing sensual Beyonce-esque moves and coordination.
Morrow’s “HD” has total mass appeal, a track she and her producers like because it’s sassy. “It’s just me talkin’ smack about myself, [like] you don’t know about me but you can find me on TV on HD,” she says. “We thought it was cool, and as we wrote more, we thought it’d be a first song, a good introduction.” It’s got some Rowland vibes, a little Toni Braxton, but also a touch of game a la Chill Moody, a friend with whom she’s performed.
Earlier this year, she and her sister were riding in her car, and when Morrow flipped on the radio, “HD” came blaring through the speakers. Just like when the GaGa call came through, she was pumped.
“I’m always surprised and shocked. And you never get used to it,” she says, always a humble Philly girl striving for the opportunity to shine. “I’m just happy I get to do this every day.”
Wed., July 3, 2pm. Free. The Piazza at Schmidt’s, N. Second St. and Germantown Ave.
PW's Music Issue 2014