Maren Morris Band
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Maren Morris Band

Grand Prairie, Texas, United States | INDIE | AFM

Grand Prairie, Texas, United States | INDIE | AFM
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By Preston Jones
Posted 1:13pm on Friday, Apr. 29, 2011

Singer-songwriter Maren Morris has come a long way since her 2007 sophomore effort, All That It Takes. In the interim, she's graduated high school and headed up north, to Denton and the University of North Texas. Perhaps most importantly, her extremely appealing voice -- undeniably the very thing that hooks listeners and leaves 'em reeling -- has matured from its earlier breathiness, taking on intriguing depths, hints of vulnerability and a pleasing huskiness that finally makes her weary, wary songs feel every bit as lived in as she likely intends them. As in winemaking, achieving the desired effect occasionally just takes time.

Live Wire, produced by Morris with co-songwriter/guitarist Taylor Tatsch, is also a more forceful collection of songs than her previous two records, in that Morris isn't afraid to display her sharper edges, amid carefully sculpted tales of heartbreak. Good luck figuring out which genre to file this one under; Morris handles mid-tempo, alt-country ballads (album opener Born Again) as well as she does pop-rock kiss-offs (Nothing at All). No matter the approach, every track here is coated in a glossy, radio-ready sheen. That's not a knock by any stretch, but rather another example of how Morris is clearly positioning herself with 11 tunes willing and able to go into heavy rotation at a moment's notice.

By ably bridging a variety of styles and backed by a crack team of local musicians (Calhoun's Nolan Thies and Toby Pipes turn up, as does Brooklyn ex-pat Cooper Heffley), Morris moves confidently through Live Wire, confirming her status as one of the Lone Star State's most criminally overlooked talents. - DFW.com


Now that Maren Morris is 14 years old and releasing her first real CD, it's time to stop thinking of her as a cute little girl and to listen seriously to what she's doing. First impressions from Walk On include these:
* Her voice hasn't changed, at least noticeably, since she was 12 or maybe even 11; it was fine then, it's fine now. Like the young woman herself, her voice is pretty and contained; I have no real idea how powerful it might be.
* She's writing her own songs now, and playing guitar. She wrote eight of the 10 songs on Walk On including two co-writes, one with her mom, Kellie, and one with producer Stephen Doster. She does a fine cover of "Barrelhouse Blues," written by Doster, Chris Layton, and Tommy Shannon.
* Damn, she's a serious girl, uh, young woman. In all the primary CD photos, including one of her sitting on a swing set, there's not even the hint of a smile. The songs are serious, too. "Girl I See" is about a young woman asking herself if she's good enough and "Popular Girl" is an anthemic reminder of how quickly a school girl can lose her dignity and reputation. The rest of the songs deal with nominally grown-up themes.
For my money, Morris is best on the bluesiest songs: "Walk On," "Barrelhouse Blues," and Buddy and Julie Miller's "Help Wanted." It's easily to believe she's actually felt the pain she sings of in "Walk On." Morris remains an interesting, somewhat enigmatic work in progress.
The musical support is solid: Doster, Scott Boland, and Randy Langley on guitars; Eddie Cantu on drums; Dick Sims on keyboards; Eric Zukoski on bass; and Lloyd Maines on pedal steel and Dobro. - Tom Geddie


9 p.m., Poor Davids Pub Maren Morris is out past her curfew. A mere 14 years old, she opened tonight's 15th annual singer-songwriter competition at Poor David's with a handful of original tunes. Wearing an orange baseball cap with her T-shirt and jeans, she glides through her set like a pro, with an effortless twang to her voice.
"God, I hate kids today," mutters the guy beside me. "What were you doing when you were 14?" 
Female singer-songwriters always get a bad rap, with their corny sincerity and dear-diary lyrics, but it's nice to sit down and listen to an artist who can just plain sing.
 Female performers tend toward one of two camps: those, like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, who can sing but not write; and those, like Liz Phair and Courtney Love, who can write but not sing. Rare is the woman who manages both. (Aimee Mann comes to mind.) 
- Sarah Hepola


Maren Morris' Walk On, produced by local pop mentor Stephen Doster, will attract good notices no matter what the case, but the fact that she's a high school freshman makes her worth a second look. Morris' supple vocals highlight 10 tender songs of self-examination ("Girl I See") and growth ("Rain") amidst the wonder of life unfolding. Her tendency is toward country rock ("Help Wanted"), and here's hoping she follows her instincts. - Margaret Moser


Ok, gang, here’s the deal. This gal is only fifteen years old. Like Lee Ann Rimes before her, she’s more than ready for the big time. Unlike Rimes she has chosen our genre where the music flows a lot more than the money does. She’s wise and talented way beyond her years and this disc is a real eye opener for us jaded worn down music lovers that are pushing fifty and beyond. This one gives me hope and lets me know that the circle just may stay unbroken after all. Maren garnered the attention of Lloyd Maines who contributes to the album. It reminds me of the first time that Linda Ronstadt made a solo album way back when. She may not achieve the lofty status of Rimes or even American Idol winner Carrie Underwood, but she will have left her mark with this stunning debut. This a self release until the rest of the world catches up. Here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor with this one. - villagerecords.com


Genre-blending singer-songwriter Maren Morris readies for the release of her sophomore album, All That It Takes.

By JIMMY FOWLER
files\2007-09-12\music.jpg
Comfortably middle-of-the-road: singer-songwriter Maren Morris

What do you do when you’re a 17-year-old young woman, you haven’t graduated high school yet, and your talent is compared to that of Norah Jones and Lee Ann Rimes? According to Maren Morris, the singer-songwriter with abilities beyond her years, you deliberately put those comparisons out of your mind.

“There’s nothing more I can do than I’m already doing,” said Morris, who’s been performing in clubs, festivals, and contests in the North Texas area and beyond since she was 10. Jones and Rimes are “amazing,” she said. “But I’m not them. I can’t let myself feel the pressure to become [like them].”

A smart decision but one that’s easier to declare than to live out, especially since so many adults, including her father and business manager Scott Morris, are betting that young Maren will follow in the footsteps of other youthful, attractive, and inordinately talented female musicians from this part of the world. The plan: Get lots of local and regional exposure, bag a major label deal, and then bypass the moronic American Idol meat-grinder to establish an enduring reputation among music-buyers and concertgoers.

A native of Grand Prairie who recently pulled out of Arlington’s Bowie High School to earn her degree via a state home-schooling program, Morris is well aware that she’s being watched. But she’s not skerred. Her soft, high voice surprises the listener with its rhythmic sophistication, its ability to bend and break notes, and its sheer adaptability to country, roots-rock, and blues stylings. On her new album, All That It Takes, due out this week, she transcends the fancy-formal countrypolitan sound of her 2006 debut Walk On to touch on many genres while remaining firmly in the middle of the country-rock road. She sounds simultaneously confident and stranded, in a weird, commercially conscious limbo. When she speaks, Morris, not surprisingly, sounds as if she’s still trying to wrap her head around the possibilities before her.

“My heart will always be in country music,” she said. “I love musicians like Patti Griffin who’re great singers and great songwriters. To me, songwriting is the ultimate art form, even more than singing. But if you can do both, that’s a real artist: expressing your own words in your own voice.”

Morris may hold singer-songwriters in high esteem, but she also appreciates artists who aren’t afraid to sing other people’s stuff, like Bonnie Raitt and that iconic, blues-fired volcano from Port Arthur, Janis Joplin. In fact, every time Morris writes a new tune, she hands it to her lead guitarist and co-producer Taylor Tatsch for inspection and advice. In her live sets, she also often includes a smoky version of Albert King’s “Stormy Monday.” So does Morris ever want to cut loose from her studio work’s gentle, folksy-funky rhythms and blast out an album’s worth of pure Texas blues?

“I’ve never thought about doing a [pure] blues album, but that’s interesting,” she said. “Part of me is afraid, I guess. I mean, you can’t just walk through [a musical genre like] the blues. You have to live it. I am only 17 years old,” she said, with a chuckle.

Still, Morris is a veteran, of the studio, the club scene, and even the road. Last summer she played several events in and around London, all paid for by the publisher of Britain’s Americana-lovin’ rag Maverick. Her trip also included being interviewed on BBC Radio. She is currently in the middle of a radio-promo tour across Texas and Oklahoma in support of All That It Takes, chatting and performing a song or two live with her acoustic guitar in broadcast studios. The new album has been picked up for international distribution by Fort Worth’s Smith Music Group, a label based in the Stockyards that specializes in so-called “Red Dirt” artists like Stony LaRue and Cross Canadian Ragweed.

“I was surprised [about the Smith Music deal], because I’m not really part of the ‘Red Dirt’ scene,” she said. “But I have grown up around that music. When I’m writing a song, I don’t think, ‘Is this country or blues or rock?’ I just write it, and then I sing it the way I think it’s supposed to sound.” - Fort Worth Weekly


She has performed with Texas greats Tommy Alverson and Jack Ingram, and legends like Marty Stuart. She finished in the finals fo the B.W. Stevenson Songwriters' competition. Lloyd Maines played on her debut record. And she attended Grammy Camp this summer. Quite a resume for a girl who is only 15!
Maren Morris is anything but a typical teenager. During the week she is a sophomore at Bowie High School in Arlington. ON the weekends, she is part of the Texas music scene and the powerfrul voice behind the CD Walk On.
Maren got her start in music at the age of 10, singing around the campfire at the popular Larry Joe Taylor Music Festival. Scott Morris, Maren's father and manager, remembers that weekend well: "After Maren sang, people started coming up to us requesting her to sing at different events or venues. It all just took off from there."
She has been hailed as the next LeAnn Rimes - thought she's a more soulful, rootsy version who also writes most of her material. Being young, talented and female presents challenges: "Sometimes people don't take me seriously because of my age or are skeptical about booking a young girl to play their club. All I ask is to be given a chance to prove myself."
Despite obstacles, Maren's career continues to grow. Last October Maren recorded her debut album Walk On with Austin musician and producer Stephen Doster. She co-wrote eight of the ten tracks, showcasing her ability to sing and write everything from country to rock to blues. The title track that she co-wrote with Doster stands out as her favorite. "I wrote that song about the need to move on, not getting pigeon-holed in life." says Maren. The song will be featured in an upcoming independent film Sweetwater. "The song will be in the opening of the film. I am so excited to see my music in a movie," smiles Maren.
Having a song in a movie is exciting. Getting to go o Los Angeles and study with music industry greats like Grammy Award-winning producers David Foster and Jimmy Jam is the experience of a lifetime. Through her involvement with the Texas Music Project, Maren applied and was accepted to the first Grammy Camp. She joined 46 other high school students from around the country who came to gain first hand knowledge of what it takes to make it in the music business.
"we got to visit Capitol Records, met INXS and great producers like Foster. At the end of the week we got to perform the songs that we had written and recorded while at camp," says Maren. "The greatest thing was getting to meet other kids from around the country. I am the only kid I know around where I live who does this professionally, so it was neat to meet people who are doing similar things and learn their perspective. I still keep in contact with them and we all hope to go back next year."
She has found new inspiration to write, after coming home with an armload of songs written out in L.A. Asked what she is writing about lately, Maren says, "I like to write about what happened during the summer like crushes, that sort of thing."
Even at 15, she is honing her craft as a songwriter, striving to capture her life and the world around her and put it into song. "I go through periods where I don't write. It happens in spurts, " she admits. "I am not one of those people who writes every day. When an idea comes it just flows out of the pen. It comes really fast," says Maren.
On the album Maren also covers Buddy and Julie Miller's "Help Wanted," a favorite in her live sets, and the sultry "Barrelhouse Blues," written by Doster, Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon.
Walk On was released in October of last year, then re-released in June when Maren secured a national distribution deal that puts her CD in stores like Best Buy, next to her idols Norah Jones, Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi.
All of this would not be possible without her dedicated family. When parents Scott and Kellie are not running Maren Karsen Salon, named for her and her sister, they are actively involved in her career. Scott runs the business side of things and Kellie contributed lyrics to two of the songs on the album.
Says Scott, "She is just awesome. Maren is blasting past me on the guitar, and the way she can ad lib amazes me. It comes so natural to her that I have to believe that she has this God-given talent for a reason."
Maren's father and her loyal fan base aren't the only ones who recognize her talent. Major labels are starting to take an interest in her as well. As her father says, "No matter what happens, the goal has always been the same, to help her share her gift with as many people as possible.
- Best in Texas Magazine 11/05


4 Stars!

Maren Morris' debut CD WALK ON (Mozzi Blozzi Records MBR 040101) is refreshing on several levels. The 14-year-old vocalist is out of Texas and there seems to be very little effort here to get her to grow up prematurely. Though her sound in still obviously young, it is also powerful. Maren herself wrote eight of the ten songs and she seems confident in her craft, though much of the material seems a bit too mature for such a young vocalist. As she conjures Bonnie Raitt, Natalie Maines and Emmylou Harris, you could almost swear she had already fully navigated heartbreak, poverty, rejection and all the other elements that make a good country-blues singer. 

But Maren hasn't even finished navigating puberty. The teenage prodigy brings attitude, sonic maturity and barroom grit to Barrelhouse Blues and Buddy & Julie Miller's Help Wanted. Her own songs are serious, too. Girl I See is about a young woman asking herself is she's good enough and Popular Girl is an anthemic reminder of how quickly a school girl can lose her dignity and reputation. Maren Morris has come a long way since her musical beginnings just four years ago. Singing, writing and playing guitar, Maren has gone from late-night campfire performer to respected artist at venues across Texas. She's won acclaim from respected producers, artists, venues and fans wherever she's seen and heard. One of these is Lloyd Maines, who plays pedal steel and Dobro on this record and is a big, big fan of the youngster.
- Maverick Magazine (UK)


Bowie High School sophomore Maren Morris definitely has soul.
The evidence of this is not in the clothes she wears or how she behaves. It's in the songs she sings, and more and more people are listening.
Although she has performed professionally since age 10, the self-described country, rock and blues singer-songwriter-guitarist reaffirmed her love for the music business this summer. She received a full scholarship to attend the first Grammy camp, held this month at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., near Los Angeles.
Morris, 15, of Grand Prairie, was the only North Texan to attend the nine-day camp, which gave 47 high school and early college-age students from around the country insight into the music business. Each teen-ager learned different aspects of the industry, such as singing-songwriting, music business and film-TV scoring. All participants performed in the camp's final showcase.
"I didn't realize how important it was until I was there," Morris said. "It was a lot better for me because there were other people that understand what I'm doing."
College faculty and various Grammy winners, nominees and staff educated the students on their chosen musical interests. Morris learned more about singing and songwriting. While there, she met professionals including David Foster, music producer and recent reality TV show star, R&B and hip-hop producer Jimmy Jam and Cheryl Bentyne of vocal jazz group The Manhattan Transfer.
Before attending the camp, Morris had performed onstage with country music stars such as the Bellamy Brothers, Marty Stuart and Jack Ingram.
Between singing in the choir and playing soccer at her school, she performs on weekends at clubs and bars in the Metroplex with her all-male band. She has also played venues in Austin, and is scheduled to perform during the State Fair of Texas in October.
That will mark the first anniversary of the release of her 10-track debut CD, Walk On, on the BMI label. It was recently picked up by a national distribution company.
Morris wrote eight of the songs on her debut album and said most of her inspiration came from life experiences or whatever was on her mind, to which she just added music.
The title track, Walk On, is one of her favorites and will be featured in the opening credits of a Texas independent film, Sweetwater.
The song talks about getting out of one place in life and moving forward.
Morris said she would like to have a music career, especially since attending the camp.
Grammy camp coordinator Matt Johnson said that all the students came in with tremendous talent but that Morris stood out because of her old-school country style.
"The best thing about Maren is she's a tiny bundle of soul," Johnson said. "That's something that can't be taught at Grammy camp or anywhere else. It comes from deep inside, and she has it."
The Texas Music Project, a nonprofit organization working to strengthen music communities and restore music education in schools statewide, provided Morris' scholarship to the camp. She has been a finalist for the project's "Texas 10 Under 20 Rising Star Showcase" for the past two years.
"She's making serious music, not powder-puff stuff," said Bruce Orr, Texas Music Project president and co-founder.
Morris said she still encounters people at the businesses where she performs who are skeptical of her abilities because of her age.
"They're not used to people as young as me playing in their clubs," she said. "You know, give me a chance."
- Ft. Worth Star-Telegram




Fort Worth Star-Telegram Article - Jan. 8, 2008

Four to the fore
Area bands look to build on their success in '08 and maybe get a shot at the big time
By PRESTON JONES
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Telegraph Canyon
HAL SAMPLES
Telegraph Canyon
Maren Morris

With a shiny new set of months at their disposal, lots of area musicians are gearing up for what might be a productive new year. Whether it's continuing momentum generated in 2007 or implementing plans concocted over a couple of years, North Texas artists are primed and ready to make an impact. These four acts cover a range of genres -- from folksy country to cerebral rock -- and if you ask around, all of them have an excellent feeling about 2008.

Maren Morris
Who: The 17-year-old singer/songwriter released her sophomore effort, All That It Takes, in late 2007, leaving her free to spend this year touring in support of the new tunes. Arlington native Morris is not only preparing to hit the road and bring her earnest, wise-beyond-her-years music to the masses, but also to graduate high school (she's currently home-schooled) and, as she says, "enter the world as an adult."

Upcoming: Morris and her band are slated to spend a chunk of time in Austin, performing at South by Southwest showcases this March, but will need passports this summer -- the group members are packing their bags for St Agreve, France, where Morris says they're booked to perform at the annual Equiblues Festival in August.

In her words: The response, thus far, to All That It Takes has been "good," Morris says. "We're all very proud of it. It's very personal for me and I think a lot of people are gonna like this album because it has so many different genres on it." While she's focused on getting the word out about her latest long-player, Morris admits that she's already tinkering with ideas for the next record.

"We're still caught up in promoting it and getting it to people, but I'm definitely writing new material for the next album -- it never stops, I don't think you ever get a break," Morris says. "It's just coming naturally."Morris and her band will perform live at Fort Worth's the Moon on Jan. 18.
Web site: www.marenmorris.com

Preston Jones is the Star-Telegram pop music critic,
817-390-7713
pjones@star-telegram.com - Fort Worth Star Telegram 1/2008


Fort Worth Star-Telegram Write-Up
Category: News and Politics

At 17, this singer has what it takes
By Preston Jones
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Singer/songwriter Maren Morris is a great big star -- the world just doesn't know it yet. The 17-year-old Arlington resident's second record, All That It Takes, hitting stores Oct. 23, is unnerving in its maturity and captivating in its range -- an exceptional showcase for an evocative-beyond-its-years voice. Jazz, pop, country and even a bit of gospel fervor filter through these 13 tracks, produced by Morris and her lead guitarist, Taylor Tatsch. It's one of the best local albums I've heard this year.

Catch Morris, along with her four-piece band, opening for Mingo Fishtrap at McDavid Studio (301 E. Fifth St., Fort Worth) at 8 p.m. Friday. Morris and Mingo Fishtrap are performing as part of a new concert series sponsored by the Texas Music Project; Friday's gig will help raise money for the Bowie High School music department, where Maren studied. Tickets are $25. Call 817-212-4280 for information. Morris will also perform at the Moon (2911 W. Berry St., Fort Worth) on Oct. 19. - Fort Worth Star Telegram 10/2007


Discography

"Live Wire" release March 2011.

"All That It Takes", Street Date September 18, 2007 (Smith Music Group)
This is Maren's sophmore record. This new cd is more rocking, while the rootsy thread still runs through every song.

Maren's debut CD "Walk On" was completed in the fall of 2004. Her first single "Hit the Ground" was released in early '05 received significant radio in Texas and on XM Satellite Radio. The CD was done 100% analog with zero studio tricks.

Photos

Bio

Maren Morris is a singer-songwriter/guitarist with a #1, #5 and a #16 hit on the Texas Music Chart. She has toured England, France and a good portion of the U.S., performing thousands of shows. She has three albums under her belt with the 2011 release of "Live Wire." Her live performances shine as brightly as her recording efforts. Maren has been compared to Sheryl Crow, Patty Griffin and other greats.