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Neal Morse in 2007,
performing in Zoetermeer, Netherlands
August 2, 1960 |
Van Nuys, California, U.S.
|Genres||Progressive rock, Progressive metal, Christian rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, keyboards, guitar, drums, bass guitar|
|Associated acts||Spock's Beard
Yellow Matter Custard
Neal Morse (born on August 2, 1960 in Van Nuys, California) is an American singer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and progressive rock composer based in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1995, he formed the progressive rock band Spock's Beard with his brother Alan and released an album which was moderately successful. In 1999, he joined former Dream Theater co-founder Mike Portnoy, Flower Kings' Roine Stolt and Marillion's Pete Trewavas to form the supergroup Transatlantic. In 2012, Morse released Flying Colors with the newly formed band. In 2003, he released a solo album Testimony. In 2004, Morse wrote and recorded a new concept album featuring Portnoy and Randy George. In early 2007, Morse released a Christian Progressive rock album. In May 2011, he released his latest studio album, Testimony 2.
Morse grew up in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles as one of four children. His sister is now a teacher in the Walnut Creek School District. His father was a choral director. Morse started to play the piano at the age of five and started to learn to play the guitar soon after that. During his twenties he wrote two musicals (Hit Man and Homeland), did some session jobs, tried to get a deal as a singer/songwriter in Los Angeles, and recorded a few country and western demos with his brother Richard.
Musical directions 
With Spock's Beard 
After about ten years, Morse grew tired of the Los Angeles music scene and traveled through Europe for several years, busking and playing in small clubs. On his return to the U.S. he formed the band Spock's Beard with his brother Alan. Their first album, The Light (1995), was moderately successful. Spock's Beard would soon become one of the more successful progressive rock bands of the late nineties (along with Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, and The Flower Kings).
With Transatlantic 
While with Spock's Beard, Morse released two solo albums of generally straightforward rock music. In 1999, he joined former Dream Theater co-founder Mike Portnoy, Flower Kings' Roine Stolt and Marillion's Pete Trewavas to form the supergroup Transatlantic. The band has released three studio albums -- SMPT:e, Bridge Across Forever and The Whirlwind -- plus three live albums, Live In America, Live in Europe, and Whirld Tour 2010: Live in London. In concert, the group has included Daniel Gildenlöw of Pain of Salvation.
With Flying Colors 
On 26th March 2012, Morse released Flying Colors with the newly formed band, Flying Colors (Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals), Dave LaRue (bass), Neal Morse (keyboards, vocals), Casey McPherson (lead vocals, guitar), and Steve Morse (guitar).
Solo career 
Morse became a born again Christian in 2002. He left both Spock's Beard and Transatlantic immediately following the release of the Spock's Beard album Snow, since he felt a calling to make his personal faith more prominent in his recorded output and felt that this would not be possible or appropriate in a band context. The period leading to this decision is described on the solo album Testimony (2003), an epic, introspective composition which features Kerry Livgren of Kansas and Mike Portnoy. One part of his conversion to Christianity, omitted from Testimony but described in full on Testimony Live, was that his daughter Jayda had been diagnosed as having a hole in her heart that required open-heart surgery. However, before Jayda was given surgery the hole disappeared following a church service in which Morse's wife and others prayed for God's healing.
On May 18, 2003, Morse also took part in Portnoy's Yellow Matter Custard, a Beatles cover band, which later released a double-CD and DVD. In 2004, Morse wrote and recorded a new concept album featuring Portnoy and Randy George (on bass guitar). Guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy made a guest appearance on guitar and vocals. The album, titled One, is about man's relationship with God from his Christian perspective and was released on November 2, 2004.
In 2005, Morse released two non-prog Christian albums. In January, Morse recorded Lead Me Lord with the Christian Gospel Temple Choir, his children, and his friends. Morse wrote about half of the tracks. This was released in February and is available for a donation. In July, Morse released God Won't Give Up, which was written around the Snow period. This is a pop album similar to It's Not Too Late, but with Christian lyrics.
In the summer of 2005, a member of his church approached Morse to tell him that he should make an album based on the tabernacle and that he should keep it a secret. Morse mentioned that he was working on a secret project before he had written a note or was convinced that he should do the project, and mentioning it during a radio interview created enough buzz to convince him to make the album. There was a contest on his message board to guess the participants, theme, and meaning of the album based on a series of clues. The secret project was finally revealed to be ? (also known as The Question Mark album, rumoured to be influenced in title by The White Album) and is about the tabernacle in the wilderness and the tabernacle of the heart. The studio band is Neal, Mike Portnoy, and Randy George with guests Mark Leniger, Alan Morse, Roine Stolt, Steve Hackett, and Jordan Rudess.
In 2006, Morse issued Cover to Cover, a collection of cover versions by himself, Mike Portnoy, and Randy George recorded during the production of ?, One and Testimony, proving that despite the new focus of his solo career Morse wasn't completely averse to tackling songs with non-religious themes.
In early 2007, Morse released his next Christian Progressive rock album entitled Sola Scriptura, which is a concept album detailing the life and struggles of the German theologian Martin Luther, and corruption within the medieval Church. Mike Portnoy and Randy George once again teamed up with Morse for this album, and were also joined by guest musician Paul Gilbert (of Racer X and Mr. Big) who played guitar parts for a few of the songs from the album.
Immediately following the release of Sola Scriptura, Morse released an acoustic folk album entitled "Songs from the Highway". The studio album, Lifeline, was released on September 30, 2008. Morse was once again joined by Portnoy and George, only four months after the release of the Sola Scriptura live DVD. The latest live album, So Many Roads, recorded with his European band, was released on June 30, 2009.
The latest studio album, Testimony 2, was released May 23, 2011. Neal has touring bands for Europe and the US. His European band is: Collin Leijenaar (drums, music director), Paul Bielatowicz (guitars), Elisa Krijgsman (guitars), Wilco van Esschoten (bass guitar), Jessica Koomen (vocals, keys, percussion), Henk Doest (keys).
Guest appearances 
In 1997 he became a member of Eric Burdon's I band. They also released the concert film Live at the Coachhouse. In 2000, Morse provided vocals for the song "The First Man On Earth" on The Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer, one of Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Ayreon albums. Neal Morse tracks have also appeared on the CPR Volume 1 (2004), CPR Volume 2, and The Tsunami Projekt anthologies. Morse was also participated in recording the ProgAID single "All Around The World". The profits for both The Tsunami Projekt and the ProgAID single were donated for victims' relief from the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
Morse has been a guest musician on several 2005 albums, including Ajalon's Threshold Of Eternity, Roine Stolt's Wallstreet Voodoo, Salem Hill's Mimi's Magic Moment, and Mark Leniger's Walk on Water. Morse was one of several musical guests to appear on Dream Theater's 2007 album Systematic Chaos, on the song "Repentance". These guests were recorded apologizing to important people in their lives for wrongdoings committed in the past. Morse provided vocals for the first track on Jordan Rudess' tribute album The Road Home.
- Neal Morse (1999)
- Merry Christmas from the Morse Family (2000)
- It's Not Too Late (2002)
- Testimony (2003)
- One (2004)
- God Won't Give Up (2005)
- Lead Me Lord (Worship Sessions Volume 1) (2005)
- ? (2005)
- Send the Fire (Worship Sessions Volume 2) (2006)
- Cover to Cover (2006)
- Sola Scriptura (2007)
- Songs from the Highway (2007)
- Secret Place (Worship Sessions Volume 3) (2008)
- Lifeline (2008)
- The River (Worship Sessions Volume 4) (2009)
- Mighty To Save (Worship Sessions Volume 5) (2010)
- Testimony 2 (2011)
- Cover2Cover (2012)
- Momentum (2012)
- The Prog World Orchestra - A Proggy Christmas (2012)
- Neal Morse's "Testimony Live" DVD
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Neal Morse|
- Allmusic.com: Artist biography
- Neal Morse official website
- Neal Morse at Facebook
- Neal Morse on Myspace
- Radiant Records
- Spock's Beard official website
- Transatlantic official website