I could listen to Greg Morton read the phone book.
If you’ve ever heard a Zeiterion ad on the radio or TV, you know Morton’s distinctive bass.
It’s an instrument built for voice-over.
A deep, commanding, authoritative presence that at once could read you an audiobook, act as the James Earl Jones-esque voice of authority or reason in a Disney movie, narrate a PBS documentary, or boom from a movie screen. Something like, “Coming, Summer 2020: ‘Jurassic Park Island!’… Get ready to run for your liiives.”
(That was just an example; there is no “Jurassic Park Island.” Sorry.)
All this is to say:
A) I wasn’t surprised at all to learn that Morton was one of the 30 voice actors selected from a field of hundreds nationwide from a voiceover contest, and also attended a voice career expo at Universal Studios Hollywood.
B) When I called him to talk about, I was entranced just by the way he boomed “Hello!”
SouthCoasters may know Morton from any number of things — the Voice of the Zeiterion, say.
Or as “Earthquake,” the bass singer and bassist in Duke and the Drivers, a popular Boston party band in the 1970s.
Or, more recently, as the voice of the Whaling Museum’s “A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World” audio tour and accompanying movie.
Aside from working as programming associate at the Z, he also owns Morton’s Fork Catering in New Bedford. For years he was the co-owner with Sally Myers of the Bridge Street Cafe in Padanaram.
Amazingly, Morton is only just beginning to tap into the field of voice acting.
In November, Morton traveled to his first-ever voice workshop in Burbank for the Society of Voice Arts and Scientists’ “That’s Voiceover!” Career Expo. It was hosted by actor/author/SOVAS co-founder Joan Baker, and Bob Bergen, the Emmy-winning voice of Porky Pig, along with Phil Lamarr, star voice of Adult Swim’s “Samurai Jack” and live announcer Anthony Mendez, according to its Web site.
“It was a career expo in the fullest sense of the word,” Morton said. “It’s amazing that SOVAS — a non-profit founded by Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins — has created an organization that brings all vocal artists together for networking and the pursuit of elevating the craft.”
We’re talking Big League.
Speakers included the voice of Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright; a casting director from Disney; and Pat Fraley, who, evidently, voiced characters on every Saturday morning cartoon I grew up on — “Duck Tails,”“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Tale Spin,” “Smurfs,” “The Addams Family,” even “Wild West C.O.W. - Boys of Moo Mesa” — along with Pixar’s “Toy Story 2,” and “Monsters Inc.,” “Tangled,” and non-animated movies like Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” and “I am Legend” with Will Smith.
“For me, as a learning experience, to go through that, to learn under that level, was really fantastic,” he told me. “Voice acting is a small community; I couldn’t believe the camaraderie.”
He entered a contest called, Audition Spotlight, that was a part of the Expo. “The contest was reading/recording specific promo copy and submitting it. They received 335 entries, and I was chosen as a top 30 finalist,” he explained.
He was encouraged to go the Expo by his voice coach, one of the SOVAS founders, Baker, whose credits include “Saturday Night Live” and video game voice acting among others.
He didn’t win anything, but added “There’s nothing I don’t like about” voice work, he said. “It’s really been a gas. I’m interested now in getting into audiobooks.”
(He’d be perfect for audiobooks.)
Morton grew up largely in Albany, NY, graduated from St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton in 1968, then studied Communications at Boston University.
He’d been complemented on his voice “since it changed in grade school,” he said with a laugh.
He sang acapella in high school, DJed college radio in the 70s, and went on to sing and play bass as a founding member of Duke and the Drivers.
The band opened for J. Geils Band, Three Dog Night, Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, the Eagles, Chuck Berry, and B.B. King.
Morton moved to Dartmouth in 1982, and aside from his work at the Bridge Street Cafe, as a side gig, he hosted a cooking show on WBSM in the late 80s, “Let’s Cook!”
He’s worked at the Z since 2005, and has catered for the Z’s many stage stars, including David Byrne, David Crosby, and Willie Nelson — who loves barbecue, he noted.
I love that.
At the Z, he’s cut radio spots that aired on FUN 107, PLM, Cool 102, and WBZ-AM in Boston, he said.
“In 2014 I began cutting pre-show announcements of upcoming artists, which play prior to the shows at the Z,” he said.
“Since my focus beyond the Z voiceover work, which I love, started only months ago, I’m awed by the vocal acting community, and the subtleties that voice work mandates…I’m grateful for those who have supported me, and I just want to continue to have fun, and use my voice.”
We SouthCoasters hope to hear more of it, Greg.
Lauren Daley is a freelance writer and Spotlight music columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.facebook.com/daley.writer. She tweets @laurendaley1