Morgan James
Morgan James; courtesy of Ashley White

Morgan James at City Winery 

The holidays are upon us and R&B vocalist Morgan James will be lifting spirits while kicking off her tour with an appearance at City Winery on Nov. 26. With a recently released holiday album, A Very Magnetic Christmas (via Hedonist Records), James continues her Memphis soul stylings, which were prominently displayed on her last two studio albums, Reckless Abandon and Memphis Magnetic. For James, latching on to Memphis soul was the most natural thing. “I’ve been making soul and R&B records for about the last 10 years,” James says. “I think a big part of Memphis came in because not only is it one of the great homes of soul music, but also I’m married into Memphis because my husband, Doug Wamble, is from there. So, it really felt like like a part of the family in addition to a part of the lineage of soul music.” James, who trained at Juilliard under the likes of Barbara Cook and has appeared in the original cast of four Broadway shows including Motown: The Musical (where her versatility allowed her to appear as both Doris Day and Teena Marie), got an enormous stamp of approval from Prince when he greenlit her cover of his song “Call My Name,” something that happened thanks to record executive L.A. Reid listening to music while in the shower. “I was begging for years for L.A. to contact him,” explains James. “It came on shuffle, honestly, when he was in the shower and he heard it and he said ‘Oh, I should call Prince.’” After a text from Reid, Prince listened to James’ version and immediately gave the thumbs up. “Truly five minutes later Prince called L.A. back and said ‘I love it ‘and gave permission…It was amazing.” Morgan James performs at 8 p.m. on Nov. 26, at City Winery, 1350 Okie St. NE. $25–$45.