Singer Maren Morris attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music ceremony Dec. 9 at Pier 36 in New York City. Evan Agostini Invision via AP
Singer Maren Morris attends the 11th annual Billboard Women in Music ceremony Dec. 9 at Pier 36 in New York City. Evan Agostini Invision via AP

Arts & Culture

Newsmaker: Arlington’s Maren Morris’ voice and career keep soaring higher

By Preston Jones

pjones@star-telegram.com

December 29, 2016 05:27 AM

UPDATED January 02, 2017 11:27 AM

One in a series of articles on Tarrant County’s top newsmakers in 2016.

For Maren Morris, the past 12 months have been the stuff dreams are made of.

The Arlington native admitted as much to The New York Times earlier this month: “I’ve crossed so many things off my bucket list. I didn’t even know I could fit all this into one year.”

Said interview was conducted backstage at Saturday Night Live, where Morris was featured as the musical guest on the Dec. 10 episode, and just a few days removed from the announcement that Morris would contend for four Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in February, including best new artist. This after she took home new artist of the year honors at this year’s Country Music Association (CMA) Awards ceremony, where she was nominated for five prizes overall.

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It’s been a hectic blur of accomplishment for Morris, whose preparation for fame’s onslaught began in the bars and clubs of North Texas, places such as Arlington’s Grease Monkey and the White Elephant Saloon in the Stockyards. That’s where Morris spent years honing her craft, independently releasing several albums, and making a name for herself as a talented musician.

Maren Morris' mom talks about the Arlington singer's road to fame

Maren Morris' performance on 'Saturday Night Live' is one of many stops on her ascent to the top in Nashville. Her friends and family held a watch party at The Grease Monkey in Arlington, where she once performed, to cheer her on.

Metro Video

The 26-year-old singer-songwriter was propelled into the mainstream by her soulful single My Church, which also helped Morris’ major label debut, Hero, bow at No. 1 on the Billboard top country album charts.

She also made an acclaimed run as an opening act on Keith Urban’s Ripcord tour.

While the year has been full of mind-boggling moments for Morris, who moved to Nashville three years ago to pursue a career as a songwriter, she told me this spring at South by Southwest that she arrived in Music City ready to make the most of whatever came her way..

“I just felt like I was strapped to a rocket the second I landed in Nashville,” she said. “It was like, ‘All right, you have this many years — you graduated from high school, now you’re going to college and you’re getting your lifetime education with some of the most incredible songwriters in the world.’ 

After the dizzying success of this year and the promise of even more achievements in 2017 including the Grammys, Morris also will embark on her first national headlining tour in February.

Maren Morris is going to have to start dreaming much, much bigger, as reality continues to eclipse her wildest expectations.

Preston Jones: 817-390-7713, @prestonjones