Country singers today come from a wide variety of musical backgrounds, but Charlotte Morris still comes from a different place than most. A singer, songwriter, guitarist and fiddle/violin player, Morris is dropping her newest album Wild Child, recorded at OmniSound on Music Row and The Castle in Franklin, on September 29. She wrote all the material for the project, which features a stellar group of Nashville musicians, including keyboardist Dane Bryant, who produced Dolly Parton’s duet of “Jolene” with Olivia Newton-John shortly before Newton-John died.
Morris explained her songwriting process, and how these new songs, written on guitar, ended up on the same album. “A lot of these songs are my most personal songs to date,” she said. “All of my songs are autobiographical, about things that I’ve struggled with or gone through or that I’ve seen my friends go through. On this album in particular, they’re about some of my hardest moments in life so far, and are some of my most vulnerable songs. They have been very cathartic for me, but I also think they kind of need to live together.”
Born in LA, raised in Pennsylvania and educated at Northwestern in Chicago (a theatre degree), Morris could have simply forged a career as a fiddle player, since she has a long classical violin background. She generally refers to her bowed buddy as a violin, even though she’s in a genre where it is usually goes by a more countrified name. “When I was four I started classical violin,” she said, “and when I was in my teens was when I found fiddle music, folk music, more traditional American fiddle playing. But I still call it a violin usually.”
“I grew up listening to a lot of classic folk music because that’s what my parents would play in the car,” she continued, “along with classical and musical theatre. But as I got older, I was drawn to artists like The Chicks – then the Dixie Chicks – which ended up bridging the gap into country for me. One of the reasons I took so quickly to country/folk/Americana music is because of the storytelling aspects. What I love most about music are the stories that are told through song, and these genres, especially country, are so adept at weaving really clear pictures for the listener to connect with. Storytelling is the big parallel between my love of musical theatre and my love of country – both tell beautiful stories through music and allow listeners and viewers to connect with the characters.”
“But some of my other influences,” she said, “are people like Simon & Garfunkel, Peter, Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, The Chicks. I also take a huge amount of influence from my years in the theatre. I think that I pull from a lot of different genres because of musical theatre, which perhaps makes my music a bit different from a typical female country/Americana artist of my age.”
She’s fully aware of what’s currently happening on today’s charts, though, in terms of who’s who among her female peers. “I also have a ton of current female artists that I love and am constantly inspired by,” she said. “Like Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Liz Longley, Ingrid Andress. I almost exclusively listen to female artists at the moment. And two of my favorite bands are Fleetwood Mac and Delta Rae.”
You can keep up with Morris at charlottemorrismusic.com.