Musician and producer Morgan Matthews’ love of music stretches back to his days as a child in church where he heard hymns and the like. He began his journey down the production path when he installed a four-track recorder in his grandparents’ backyard shed, converted it into a studio and there taught himself the craft of recording and production. He has since worked with artists including 3D Friends, Tory Lanez and, most recently, the late Aaron Carter. Based in Fort Worth, TX, Matthews had his first true taste of success when he produced 2018’s “Show Me Love.” It attracted Alicia Keys’ attention; she re-recorded it with Miguel and it went on to become the first single from 2020’s Alicia.
Fort Worth is a city with just shy of one million residents and Matthews has spent his entire life there. Though it’s not a major music hub, he’s managed to carve out a successful production career for himself. “The internet has helped [with that] a lot,” he explains. “It also helps whenever my name is listed on a credit. People in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles have reached out to me. More so now than ever I’ll send tracks and artists will write the words. When they send them back, they might be a rough demo or ready to go. Sometimes I’ll send it to someone else I know to sing it.”
For the past year, Matthews worked intensely with Aaron Carter, who scored his first platinum record at the age of nine and is known widely for his 2000 cover of “I Want Candy.” Carter, who passed unexpectedly in early November, was also the brother of Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. The Matthews-produced Blacklisted was released just a few days after his death. “Every song on that record was my favorite,” Matthews observes. “It was fun to be around Aaron. He’d always tell stories and made everyone feel that they were welcome and that they were his best friend. Aaron, Dan Wright [A.K.A. 3D Friends] and Bryan Cassidy all became a team.”
One of the techniques that Matthews found useful when recording Blacklisted was to have the songwriter sing along with Carter in his headphones on early passes of a song. As they did successive takes, Mathews would pull back on that until it was Carter simply on his own. It was not unlike having a spotter or vocal training wheels. “Bryan [Cassidy], the songwriter, was in his headphones and Aaron would say ‘Okay, now I know how to sing it,’” the producer recalls. “Then I said, ‘Okay. Now we’re going to take Bryan out and it’ll be just you.’ After that, he felt it was his song. That was the first time I’d done that.”
Matthews remains productive and has a number of songs with independent artists poised to drop soon. He works largely in his own pro-grade space, and in 2020 was named the Best Producer/Engineer by the Dallas Observer Music Awards. Carter was the first artist that he dedicated substantial time to develop—about a year in total—and may do the same with others in the future.
See iammorganmatthews.com, Instagram @morganlikesmusic