A lifetime in Music: meet Gary Morris
by Pam Windsor
Singer/songwriter Gary Morris spends a lot of time on the move. When he's not performing, he's often dividing his time between his home in Thompson's Station, Tennessee, and his ranch in Colorado. The Texas-native, best known for 1980s-era country hits like "Wind Beneath My Wings," "The Love You Found in Me," and "Velvet Chains," says having homes in both places allows him to enjoy two of his greatest passions – music and a love of the great outdoors.
"Tennessee is music, music, music to me," Morris says. "It's where I signed with Warner Brothers. My publicist lives and works on Music Row. So, I come in, I co-write, and I record here. Colorado is kind of a sanctuary. It's an outdoor place; I am 31 miles from a town, and I've got a mile of river, so there's a balance for me."
He's an avid hunter and fly fisherman who had his own outdoor show on The Nashville Network. And for years, he's shared his love of fly fishing with veterans suffering from PTSD. "I'm on the Board of Directors for a charity, and we take wounded veterans and put them in the river, and the river has a healing effect. I can't even explain it to people, but I've seen guys that kind of open up and wake up and start to become more a part of the current day."
Morris may be most famous for his success in country music, but he's also well-known for two roles where he sang opera on Broadway. He performed with Linda Ronstadt in "La Boheme" (in 1984) and also played the lead role of Jean Valjean in "Les Misérables." "I didn't want to do La Boheme initially," he recalls. "I turned down auditions for it. It was my record company out of LA; it was Warner Brothers Pop that kept saying, 'You need to go sing because you'll be doing this with Linda Ronstadt.' So, I owe it to her because she's the one who piqued my interest in going up and doing it."
He's very proud of his work on Broadway and still maintains a close friendship with Ronstadt. "I just talked to her last week. She's just a wonderful human being." Although his performance was nearly 40 years ago, Morris still had the jacket he wore throughout La Boheme. Last month he decided to donate it to help support Studio Tenn in Franklin. It was a symbolic gesture of his admiration for theater.
"They gave me the coat I wore every night, and I'd kept it all these years. So, I thought, this is a theater group. I'm going to bring it to their fundraiser." The coat sold for $5000. to benefit Studio Tenn.
Always busy with new projects, Morris recently launched his own Roku channel. It's called "Gary Morris World." It will feature videos of some of his concerts and expanded versions of some of those outdoor shows from decades ago. "I'm rewrapping a lot of the shows I did back in the 90s," he explains. "I took senators, baseball players, and football players, like Troy Aikman from the Cowboys, all over the world fishing and hunting for my show the "North American Sportsman." He still has hours of additional footage that's never been seen and says he'll be including it in the newer versions.
A prolific songwriter, he's also working on new music and plans to head back into the recording studio soon. His most recent release, about three years ago, was an album called "Sense of Pride." In addition, he continues doing shows and especially enjoys the intimate settings of performing arts centers. "It's like playing in a big living room. I go out all acoustic now, I'll take three guitars, and they're all different tunings. And I'll stand or sit on a stool and tell stories about my kind of unique life that just happened and wasn't planned." Unplanned or not, he wouldn't have it any other way. "I actually love where I am in my life right now."
To learn more about Gary Morris, his music, his upcoming shows, or how to sign up for his Roku channel, visit https://garymorris.com/