When Grammy-winning artist Justin Timberlake took the stage for MTV’s “Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” to perform a cover of Leonard Cohen’s 1984 song “Hallelujah,” he was not alone. The 28-year-old singer was accompanied on guitar and vocals by Matt Morris, whose When Everything Breaks Open album was produced by Timberlake’s label, Tennman Records.
Morris, the son of country artist Gary Morris, has a long history with Timberlake. The two were child stars on the Disney Channel’s “The Mickey Mouse Club,” along with Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Keri Russell, Ryan Gosling and JC Chasez. Morris was on the series for four seasons, from 1991 to 1995.
Following the show’s cancellation, Morris decided to live a normal teen life, writing on his Web site, “At 15, all I really wanted to do was hang out, get my learner’s permit and not work. I didn’t want to be a celebrity; I wanted to be a kid.”
Morris later reunited with several of his “MMC” co-stars to collaborate on their musical projects. Morris co-wrote five tracks from Aguilera’s Stripped album and helped pen Kelly Clarkson’s hit “Miss Independent.” Morris also collaborated with Timberlake on “(Another Song) All Over Again” and JT’s Reba McEntire duet “The Only Promise That Remains.”
After one self-released album and a five-song EP called Backstage at Bonnaroo and Other Acoustic Performances, Timberlake approached Morris with the offer to become Tennman’s first signed artist.
“He said he was going to help me share my music with the world, and I believed him,” Morris wrote.
Morris released When Everything Breaks Open on January 12. A week later, he performed the song “Money” on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” as well as “Bloodlines” with Charlie Sexton and Timberlake.
Timberlake and Morris’ “Hallelujah” duet, along with the other “Help for Haiti Now” performances, can be pre-ordered from iTunes.
iTunes customers can exclusively pre-order the “Hope for Haiti Now” full-performance album ($7.99) and the full two-hour video telecast ($1.99). Pre-orders will be delivered in the days following the telethon. Individual audio performances will also be available for purchase and download for 99 cents each in the days following the telethon. Apple, the record labels and the artists will donate their share of the proceeds to Haiti relief funds managed by “Hope for Haiti Now” charities, including the Red Cross and Wyclef’s Yele Haiti foundation. Performances will also be available for purchase in the days following the event through Amazon’s MP3 service and Rhapsody, through distribution provided by INgrooves.