Morris excited about return to ASU in support of Johnny Cash project

Monday, November 14, 2011

The magical voice of Gary Morris has thrilled audiences all over the world. In his first visit to Jonesboro Aug. 4 for the inaugural Johnny Cash Music Festival, held at ASU's Convocation Center, he received two standing ovations -- one for Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," performed as a duet with his son Matt, and the other for his signature "Wind Beneath My Wings," which he began solo on acoustic guitar before being joined by Matt.

Morris is excited about returning to Jonesboro at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, for a special concert which, like the August event, is in support the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home restoration project in Dyess. However, while the August concert featured a star-studded lineup which included about 10 other performers, Morris will perform solo this time, allowing the audience to savor the magnificence of his voice, get to know him better and to hear many more songs which might be among their favorites.

Tickets are now on sale for the event, to be held in ASU's Riceland Hall at the Fowler Center, 201 Olympic Drive, in Jonesboro.

"The only problem about my last time in Jonesboro was it wasn't long enough," Morris said. "People were great. I'm looking forward to coming back and playing for you."

VIP tickets are $50 and will include a pre-concert meet-and-greet with Morris. Lower-level tickets are $40 and upper-level tickets $30.

Morris, an award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist, burst onto the national music scene in 1982, earning Billboard's New Male Artist of the Year award with his self-titled debut album and producing the breakthrough hit "Headed for a Heartache," which reached number six on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1981.

From there, he went on to record 15 top 10 country songs, including "Wind Beneath My Wings," one of the most popular songs of the generation, which was named the Academy of Country Music's Single of the Year in 1983.

Morris has been prolific in his career, appearing in more than 20 solo and compilation albums.

Seeking a break from touring with his music, Morris took his soaring voice to Broadway, performing as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables." Morris was highly regarded for his performance, with his rendition of "Bring Him Home" -- one of the most memorable songs of the production -- included on the platinum selling "Les Miserables" compilation album.

He has appeared on a number of television shows, including hosting "North American Sportsman" on TNN, the network's top-ranked show, for five years, and has guest-starred, hosted or produced numerous television shows, including the Tonight Show, General Hospital, and Designing Women.

He has appeared in command performances for the Queen of England, President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan, President and Mrs. George Bush, President and Mrs. Bill Clinton, and President and Mrs. George W. Bush, as well as performing at the Red, White, and Blue Inaugural Ball for President and Mrs. Barack Obama.

Considering those performances, it comes as no surprise that Morris is one of America's greatest performers of patriotic music. He is well-known for his masterful renditions of "The National Anthem" and "God Bless America," among others. His newest studio release, "Faith and Freedom," displays the essence of the principles on which America was founded.

Morris recently returned to the studio and to the road after a self-imposed hiatus from music. He currently is touring to publicize "Faith and Freedom." He appeared in December 2010 in Rector for a fundraiser for that community's Helping Hands Foundation, which provides assistance to disadvantaged students, as well as college scholarships -- many to ASU.

While Rector is a small venue when compared to the massive arenas and worldwide audiences with which Morris has shared his amazing gifts, there's a touching sentiment behind the Helping Hands Foundation which Morris said drew him to the area.

"The story is compelling in the very fact the community can raise money and provide scholarships for these kids and all it takes is someone with a little bit of talent," Morris said. "How can you not love an organization like the Helping Hands Foundation which is designed to help these young people have opportunities they might not have otherwise? When I learned about the foundation from my friend Bill Carter (co-founder of the organization), I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in. I told him, 'Whenever you do another one (concert), tell me and I'll come play.' My talent, whatever it may be, is a gift from God. I've been able to use it to make a great life, and I want to use the opportunities I've been afforded to help others. I think there's a time when the fortunate have to repay the blessings they've received."

Morris is no stranger to assisting worthy causes. He has long been a supporter of TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), which offers grief counseling and support to military families who have lost loved ones to the tragedies of war. During a recent golf tournament which he helped sponsor, Morris was introduced to a nine-year-old girl who spoke about the impact TAPS had on her family after losing her father in Afghanistan. Morris was so moved by the story that he invited the girl, who has a strong interest in the outdoors, to join him on a five-day elk hunt.

Rachel Worby, music director and conductor of the Pasadena Pops Orchestra, says,"Gary Morris is, above all else, a consummate musician. His soul is filled with song and his spirit is filled with a desire to bring music into the lives of all for whom he performs...."

The Dallas Morning News noted, "There are voices that transcend seasons and settings. Gary Morris has one of those voices."

Deborah Evans-Price, of the Boot, has called his voice "incredible," and Morris's critics and fans alike seem to concur.

Those who wish may visit Morris online at http://www.garymorris.com/.

For more details on the Dec. 11 concert, contact Christy Valentine (cvalentine@astate.edu), executive director, University Communications, (870) 972-3780, or purchase tickets at the ASU Central Box Office (http://www.astate.edu/tickets/), (870) 972-2781, or toll-free at 888-278-3267.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: