Broadway star’s son eager to share ‘his story’
By Sara Downey
In a pop music landscape littered with nameless pop stars, you get a lot of catchy hooks, but not so many storytellers. Enter Matt Morris, a 29-year-old singer/ songwriter.
Morris, a Colorado native, has just released an album full of disparate songs called When Everything Breaks Open.
His father, Broadway star and country crooner, Gary Morris, helped foster his career from infancy. Matt Morris spent summer vacations on tour with his father.
The young Morris then spent his early teen years as a cast member of Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club in the 1990s.
After the series, Morris decided to trade in his mouse ears for the life of a normal teenager while his Mouseketeer colleagues went on to form NYSNC, and saw careers take off, like Christina Aguilera.
Morris decided to head back to Denver. While his contemporaries were singing pop songs and enjoying the spotlight, Morris was a student at John F. Kennedy High School.
“Bear Valley was my stomping ground,” Morris said. Remaining in Denver helped Morris feel grounded. “I have a very big family. A very supportive family who encouraged my music, who reminded me of my humanity in all of its forms, not just the pretty kind that we show off. They keep me real, you know, they keep me grounded.” Morris said. “That’s one aspect. The other I think is that Colorado is a beautiful place to live. Denver is a great city to be in. The pace is nicer than you find in L.A. or N.Y.”
While foraging his career in Denver, Morris became involved with Fight With Tools, a nonprofit organization founded by another Colorado based group, the Flobots. “I became involved with Fight with Tools on account of Seth Donovan, who works for the organization. Seth introduced me to the organization. He’s been heavily involved in the social justice movements in Denver and he introduced me to what they were doing and how the Flobots have found this amazing way to connect with communities and use the music to lift those communities up and encourage and inspire them to work together to make things better,” Morris said.
For Morris, his focus within Fight With Tools, became nurturing the art of storytelling. “I feel like children, little children and big grown up children need to be encouraged to speak what is true that they know from their life. To use their creativity to shed light on things, to use their creativity to really reach out and connect to other people. My hope is that through my music and through the work with Fight With Tools and my own sort of social consciousness that I can inspire people to use their creative gift to speak the truth. I believe that –I think that we need more storytellers,” Morris said. “I think we need people who write songs that tell stories about the world that they live in. I think that it’s crucial to furthering our culture in a sustainable way. Most of us have our cultural experiences fed to us on TV, you know, or through the mass media and I don’t think that the medium is inherently broken or inherently without any merit, but I think that there is something that is perhaps even more valuable about stories, and songs, and writing about the world. I think that kids need to know that their creative voice is essential to moving forward our culture. Not because it can make you money, not because it can get you fame, but because there is an inherent value in telling stories about our lives.”
His Mouseketeer roots and friendship with Mouseketeer colleague, Justin Timberlake, paid off two fold for Morris. Not only is the friendship genuine, but Timberlake has released When Everything Breaks Open on his new record label, Tennman Records.
“We talked about me being an artist on Tennman records many years ago, many years before this Jan. 12 when the album came out. Between that first conversation and that release date, I faced a number of trials and sort of tests to my faith in the process and the process at all,” said Morris. “But the process takes reliably longer than you think it would. And it does take faith, it does take trust and sometimes when things are really hard and you really want things to happen faster than they naturally can, I find that being grateful – actively grateful – for all those people who are helping to make this happen, it relieves some of that tension and makes it a little bit easier.”
When Everything Breaks Open is currently ranked at No. 17 on the iTunes Singer/ Songwriter Best Sellers List. Morris performed a sold out show at the Bluebird Theater on Feb. 25. For more information, visit mattmorris.net.
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