Masterclass: Mo Pleasure

22 June, 2018

Morris Pleasure, affectionately known as ‘Mo’, is a renowned multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer hailing from Newhaven, Connecticut. He recently visited students at BIMM Brighton for a truly memorable Masterclass, which included music industry advice, a rundown of his past musical experience, and a performance by the man himself.

Morris Pleasure using a keyboard at an event

The session was hosted by BIMM Brighton’s Head of Guitar, Damien Morris – a man no stranger to world-class musicians, having worked with Moby, Jamiroquai, M People, Sugababes… and even a group Mo Pleasure has been involved with over the years – Average White Band.

Mo began the Masterclass by telling us a bit about his musical past. He began playing acoustic piano at the age of four and by his early teens he’d already mastered several instruments, including trumpet, violin, guitar, bass and drums. In high school he had his own soul and R’n’B band, as well as playing in the school’s jazz band, orchestra and choir.

Mo Pleasure holding a guitar

He got his big break in the industry thanks to a chance meeting with Ray Charles’ Musical Director, who was a guest speaker at an event Mo attended. After the session, the MD asked Mo where he could get a beer, and this conversation resulted in Mo sending a tape to the MD, which led to a phone call from the Soul Man himself – Ray Charles! Mo was then asked to join Ray Charles’ band, which involved him touring the world, and he hasn’t stopped doing so since.

Host Damien explained that over the years Mo has “played with some of the greatest artists ever”, and this statement wasn’t an exaggeration, as Mo went on to list some of the musical luminaries he’s worked with: Michael Jackson, Nile Rodgers, Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige, Earth Wind and Fire, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, Natalie Cole and many more.

Mo then gave some important performance advice to the BIMM Brighton audience, based on his first-hand experience, saying: “It’s important with communication on stage to use the energy exchange between the musicians and the audience, as well as the musicians on stage, to create something beautiful without ego as a gift for the audience and musicians.”

Mo Pleasure signing a paper

He said he learnt a lot about stage presence during his time with Ray Charles: “When playing with Ray, it taught me about body movements. If there’s some advice I can give you, it’s that when you’re playing with an artist like this, watch them like a hawk.”

Mo mentioned that he has suffered from stage fright and anxiety in the past when performing, so the wellbeing of musicians is a cause close to his heart: “I’m deeply into helping musicians, which is why I work with mental wellness and the legal aspect of the business.”

Mo Pleasure at BIMM Institute with students

After the Masterclass, BIMM Brighton students were hugely positive about the event, with first-year Songwriting student, Roman Scott, describing the session as “inspiring, jazzy and moving”.

Second-year BA (Hons) Music Journalism student, Prentice Mitchell, said the Masterclass was “ridiculously amazing” and that Mo “had the tightest groove I’ve ever seen!”

Reinebeau Anderson Dudley, who studies Vocals, said Mo was “really inspiring… and it was nice to see a mentor working together on the improv aspect of the Masterclass.”

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Mo for telling us all about his life and career in music… and we really loved hearing him perform!

If you’d like to study music at BIMM Brighton and go to incredible Masterclasses like this one, book to attend an Open Day, download a prospectus, or call the BIMM Admissions Team today on 01273 626 666 or [email protected]

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