UPDATE: Gary at Grand Ole Opry Feb. 4 (See below)
By Caroll Lucas
Jonesboro, Ark. — Like Facebook says: “It’s complicated.” So is Gary Morris. He blew in here Sunday night, Dec. 11, to do a benefit for the ASU (Arkansas State University) project to restore the Johnny Cash boyhood home in Dyess, Ark.
After a hectic meet and greet session where he grinned and posed with about 75 fans who were transported beyond delight, Gary — who was wearing a black cutoff flight jacket, black pants, his beard out full, his hair dyed reddish blonde and bushy — took the stage with his two guitars at the Fowler Center and sang like the lead in a Broadway musical written and directed by Gary Morris.
This is a man who can sing on a par with John Raitt. However, he’s probably a better actor than Raitt ever was. He has sung Rudolpho in “La Bohème” opposite Linda Ronstadt and Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables,” both on Broadway. This is a country singer who is about to open Dec. 24 in “Soul Doctor” playing “Rock Star Rabbi” Shlomo Carlebach in a show that is headed for Broadway after playing Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Toronto. (Gary’s youngest son Garon, 14, will portray young Shlomo Carlebach.)
This is the enigma that is Gary Morris. He has a voice that carries him to the heights of vocal performance. He is not just your average country singer or pop singer.
He has written love songs that show off his ability. His signature song is “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which was his number one hit back in the ’80s which he sang just before intermission Sunday. His fans demanded and he sang several of his hits from the ’80s. He opened with “I’m gonna love you the way I love you tonight,” gifting you with his spectacular range and control right off the bat. He then went into “Faded Blue,” “Bread and Water” and one of my favorites “Finishing Touches,” definitely a writer’s song. Great line: “who used to be good friends, now they’re just lovers.” Of course he sang “The Love She found In Me” and tweaked it with a story about how he wrote parts of it after he encountered a fan who was about to ask his true love to marry him after they had been together a considerable period of time.
The concert was intense and casual. He sang a cut from his new release “ Faith & Freedom,” “Where Love Is King” a commentary on the state of humanity and he told us that the song was first recorded just before 9/11. There was a song from the early days that was lighthearted and fun that he worked his way through (almost) called “Mama Don’t Give Me No Whippin’ and a new song “If You Were Mine” with another great line “If you were mine, there would never be another shattered dream.”
Gary closed the show with “Amazing Grace,” which he nailed. And he opened the second act with a magnificent “Oh Holy Night.” Before the show we asked him which song he was going to sing was his favorite. He said ask me after the show; I did. It was “Holy Night.”
If you get a chance to see Gary, take it. He is one of those rare performers who can take his audience to that enlightened place where only great actors, singers and dreamers go.
Nashville, Tenn. — Award-wining country music star Gary Morris will debut his first single and the title cut “If You Were Mine,” off his latest CD Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
From a collection of newly written songs, Gary will roll out his new album by releasing a new song every month, available on iTunes and CD Baby, with the complete CD available at the close of 2012. The sound on the album is paired down, with Gary’s prominent voice and his guitar — a sound described as open and airy.
Of his album, Morris said it’s a personal and romantic one. “It will resonate with my fans, no matter what stage of life or love they’re in. There’s been a great deal of turmoil and emotion in the last year or so of my life, and that often gets me to bring out the old pen and paper. Not all love songs work, but I hope this works for somebody.”
After a self-imposed hiatus from music to focus on other ventures, Gary took to the road and studio, much to the delight of his fans. Amidst his 2011 tour, One Voice, One Night, One Guitar, Gary opened the CMA Music Festival singing the National Anthem before more than 65,000 at LP Field and performed at the annual festival. Gary also toured New England and mid-America with Kenny Rogers; joined George Jones, Kris Kristofferson, and Rosanne Cash in a concert taped for a TV special honoring Johnny Cash airing in early 2012.
He also in 2011 recorded and released his “Faith and Freedom” CD while making a limited run appearance in the Broadway bound musical “Soul Doctor.” A giving man, Gary held Master Classes at colleges and universities while retaining an extensive production, songwriting, and coast-to-coast touring schedule.
The Grand Ole Opry presents the best in country music live every week from Nashville, Tenn. Celebrating 85 years of entertainment, the Opry can be heard on 650 WSM-AM, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio, and opry.com. The syndicated weekly program, America’s Opry Weekend, airs on country radio stations across America and on the Armed Forces Radio Network.
Opry Tickets are available and can be purchased via opry.com or by phone 800-733-6779.
Hill ‘n Holler Photos