A Conversation with Singer and Fire Dancer Morrison

Welcome to ‘Jake’s Take,’ Morrison! (Photo courtesy of EMPKT PR)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

It is a pleasure to welcome singer, songwriter, and fire performer Morrison to Jake’s Take.

Morrison is the stage name that Megan Morrison selected for herself. After making a name for herself in Massachusetts’ high school choir and musical theatre community, Morrison attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst and New York City’s Hunter College. Eventually, Morrison traveled to Miami and formed bands such as Dorothy’s Surrender and Revlover.

While in Miami, several significant recording artists began to recruit her to perform alongside them for another one of her talents. As a fire dancer, Morrison performed with Jessie J and Pitbull.  She also received praise from several media outlets such as the Miami New Times and She Makes Music.

In this edition of “A Conversation,” Morrison shared her origin story, talked about her talent as a fire dancer, and previewed her upcoming solo project: Appetite for Freedom.

Jacob Elyachar: When did you get interested in music? How did that passion evolve into the desire of pursuing a career in the recording industry?

Morrison: I got interested in music at a very young age. It’s just something that’s kind of always been part of me. I come from a family of musicians. My mom was a pianist and organist in our church when I was young and her father, my grandfather, was a self-taught musician, played in big bands, played like all brass instruments and then went on to compose when he was young and conduct as well. I was always around music on that side of the family. Then my dad was always like listening to Led Zeppelin and popped around the house and singing rock and roll songs and stuff. I had that around.

I sang my first solo in church. They let me sing, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” in church when I was four and that was my first, my first solo appearance and my mom played the piano, so I always love making music. When I got a little older, I started singing in choirs and started excelling and getting short solos and stuff. When I got into high school, I started doing the singing competitions, like district and then all state and singing classical music mostly. Then, I got into musical theater, and that became a passion of mine because I always loved being on the stage.

When I am on the stage, something different happens to me and I am not worried at all about anything, I am there in the moment and I just love being on the stage. So that was really fun for me getting into musical theater. As I got older, it’s at the point where you start looking for colleges and it’s like, what do I want to do? Well, music is what I like to do the most, so I decided that I wanted to try to go to college for music.

I started auditioning at a few schools. My mom was a single mom. We didn’t have a lot of money, so I had the application for a lot of big schools, but I knew that if even if I got accepted and we wouldn’t be able to afford it, so I decided to stay local, stay close to my mom and I got into the University of Massachusetts, that was in my hometown. Studied voice there for three years and then before my senior year, I was done.

I I knew I was going to move to New York City and that was the plan. I had finished almost all my music classes, and I only had like Gen Eds left, like history and has some random courses that had nothing to do with music, so I was like, I can finish that in New York. I moved to New York City and transferred my credits to Hunter College. Then went to Hunter College for music. When I was in New York, I started singing some rock bands, some punk bands. That’s really what I found what I wanted to do was sing rock and roll. I started doing some like garage recordings, and stuff and kind of did that with different bands over the years.

It wasn’t until five years after that, when I moved to Miami, that I started a serious band that I was going to invest time and money into and we recorded our first EP and made a music video. I fell in love with being in the studio and having complete control over my music and what I was recording. I fell out of love with singing other people’s music, like the musical theater, which I still… If I make it big someday as a singer, I want to do an appearance on Broadway because that is still my ultimate dream. But that being said, I love making my original music and having the creative ability to express myself through my songs. So that’s kind of how that progression happened.

Jacob Elyachar: Who are your biggest musical role models and how did they make an impact on you as you became a musician?

Morrison: When I was younger, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder, that’s all like music that my mom and I would listen to. I remember just listening to Aretha Franklin and being like, “Oh man, I want to be that when I grow up.” She just such a powerhouse, that her voice and the soul and your music. She had a significant influence on me. I also listened to a lot of jazz growing up, and I still listen to it. There are strong female vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald that had a significant impact on me.

Then, I listened to a lot of like classic rock, like Led Zeppelin and Tom Petty were two of the artists that my folks played a lot of.  The first time I heard Led Zeppelin, I was like, “Wow, what is this?” I was singing the lyrics to “The Lemon Song” when I was like six and my dad is like, “Uh-oh, what have I done?” I had Tom Petty’s “Full Moon Fever” memorized by the time I was probably like eight or nine because we were just played on repeat and I just loved those songs so much. I love them because Tom Petty was always telling a story with his music.  That is kind of what I tried to do with my music now it’s like saying to the story. They had a significant influence on me.

In my later years, (points to her t-shirt) Muse. The band is just three guys from the UK, small town, and they have been a band for over 30 years. I think that’s so amazing. I just saw them live on their new tour a couple of weeks ago, on my birthday. These guys are just musically and performance wise, they are just above and beyond anyone else I have ever seen.  Matt Bellamy is running around playing guitar, coming out of the stage, playing piano, playing lead guitar, singing the vocals. If I can be anyone I love being a woman but I would be Matt Bellamy if I could because he is my ultimate idol.

(Photo property of World Red Eye; courtesy of EMPKT PR)

Jacob Elyachar: One item on your resume that I find very fascinating is that you are also a fire dancer. You have worked with Pitbull and Elvis Crespo. In addition, you also joined Jessie J on stage.

Morrison: Yes.

Jacob Elyachar: How did you become a fire dancer?

Morrison: I learned from my husband. When we first started dating, and I was living in Brooklyn, he had been doing it for a year or two, and he had learned from a friend. Me being the performer and theater person, I’m like, “Oh fire, there’s something new that I could add to my repertoire. I have to learn how to do this.” I grew up in the woods in Maine, so I was around the fire a lot when I was young, like campfires and my dad and his buddies would like to jump over the fire and stuff. I always have kind of had like a fascination with fire since I have been tiny. I thought this was like one of the coolest things I had ever seen.

I just practiced and learned from friends that were more experienced than me and then the excellent school of YouTube. I learned a lot on our University of YouTube, so many tutorials for whatever different prop you are using, and that’s really how I learned a lot. Then, my modeling agency down in Miami kind of got word that I was doing this fire and I started getting booked for some random little, restaurant openings or big people spending $50,000 on a birthday party that wanted entertainment. I started doing stuff like that.

All of a sudden, I was getting booked for music videos and next thing you know, I am with Elvis Crespo and Pitbull down in Miami. It’s been a refreshing experience to get to work with people like that. It was cool with Jessie J she was performing down in Miami; this was really what she first arrived on the scene, first got big, we were like, “Whoa, who’s this?” It was for the NewNowNext Awards that was down in Miami, right near the water.  It was a cool thing. They had a huge stage set up. It was another girl and me who I have performed with before, and we were just there doing our fire while she was on stage singing her song, “I’m burning up. I’m burning up.” We’re like in the high boots and the fire. I thought “This is so cool.” That was fun.

Jacob Elyachar: Awesome! What were some of the challenges that you had overcome throughout your career? How did you overcome them?

Morrison: I have had a lot of challenges in my life. I struggled a lot with insecurity and a lot of fear just of the world and the unknown and fear of people not accepting me. Fear of being able to be me. I always kind of felt like I wanted it to be different, but I also felt like I needed to fit in. I was still really concerned about what other people were thinking of me. I had a tough time just like learning to accept myself and love myself.

That combination of that, and I struggled with alcoholism, which runs in my family. I lost my dad in 2010; it was a lifelong battle with him. He got sick and then ended up living a lot longer than he was supposed to, but he never got the help and just never… it wasn’t that he had the desire, but it had like completely consumed him. After he died, the same thing was happening to me, and when he died, I said I was going to stop drinking. Then it was not until five years later that I had to hit rock bottom and needed help because it couldn’t stop on my own. So that was huge… it was crushing at first, and I was ashamed and embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know about it, but then the more that I went through and the more that I started to learn about myself, I started to get this new confidence that I have never had in my life and instead of like wanting to keep my struggle private, I decided to use my music and speak out about it because it’s so common.

There are so many people struggling with addiction right now. It is not just alcohol; prescription drugs are a huge problem right now. I have had friends that have died from heroin, and just addiction is a massive epidemic in our country and the world. It is like, why not use, if I can use my voice and help even just one person, then I am doing something right. That’s the whole thing about recovery is to stay sober; you have to help other people stay sober; that’s how it works. That has been my mission to write songs that tell about my story and understand where I have been. I can say, “It’s okay to go through this stuff. Look where I am now, and this is how I’m feeling now. I’m feeling great.” So it’s actually almost been a blessing for me because I don’t know if I hadn’t had a problem with alcohol I hadn’t had to go through what I went through as far as the finding myself and finding my spirituality again, I don’t know if I’d be the same person than I am now and have the same drive and be writing the same songs that I am now. I am grateful for everything that I’ve gone through, and I want to use it the best I can to help other people.

Morrison is scheduled to drop her new EP, ‘Appetite for Freedom,’ sometime this summer. (Photo by Sean Pozin; courtesy of EMPKT PR)

Jacob Elyachar: You definitely became stronger because you overcame your challenges. Alrighty, let’s move onto some positive news.

Morrison: Yes.

Jacob Elyachar: Let’s talk about your upcoming EP, Appetite for Freedom. Is that a play on Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction?

Morrison: Guns N’ Roses maybe had a little influence on my musical career. Actually, not to get sidetracked, but I sang karaoke with Axl Rose once when I was living in New York City. An ex-boyfriend of mine was friends with him and he came into town and he was like, five of us are going to go or I forget how many, it was only a few of us. We went and like we shut down this, it was like in Chinatown, I think, one of those private karaoke rooms? They were closing down for the night, but then they were like, “Oh Axl Rose.” They let us go in and we stayed there for hours. What is really funny about it is that he was sober then and I was not, and I was singing every Guns N’ Roses song that I knew for this guy, this man like sat there and listened to me singing his songs. Now, when I look back at it, I really hope I get to meet him someday and apologize because I made a total fool out of myself, but he was like a huge idol of mine. His voice is killer.

Jacob Elyachar: I think he will understand.

Morrison: That being said, Appetite for Freedom always had a nice ring to it. My whole thing with my sobriety and moving forward with my life is just this new kind of appetite for this freedom. It’s not like it… My husband was like, “Oh, it sounds too patriotic.” I’m like, “Well, if people hear the songs, they will know that it’s not a patriot, you know?” Yes, I’m patriotic. I love our country about that. The title has nothing to do with that. It’s more like the freedom of self, like appetite for freedom just to be your true self and truly be free. That’s kind of where I got the idea from.

The wolf has kind of become part of my logo. I grew up in Maine and I heard the wolves at night, and it was just always a sound that was like so beautiful to me, hearing these wolves howling and that’s absolute freedom, these wolves in the wilderness. I kind of connected myself with them. That is the whole Appetite for Freedom with the wolf, that’s kind of where that all came together. These songs are about my trials and tribulations and the freedom that I have now.

Jacob Elyachar: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring singer-songwriters or performers, what advice would you share with them?

Morrison: I have gotten asked this before and you want to give the perfect advice, which I do not know if I can do that.  However, my advice would be not to be so hard on yourself and to, no matter what anyone else says, to truly believe in yourself because there are going to be people that try to knock you down. There are going to be people that just simply don’t like your music or your art, and that’s just the personal taste. I don’t like everyone else’s music, I’m not saying that it’s bad, it’s just not my personal taste.

Do not feel discouraged or stop you in what you are doing because of that. If you believe in yourself there’s going to be someone else that believes in you and you just have to be persistent and keep doing your thing. Keep doing what makes you happy. If it doesn’t make you happy then you need to maybe look at what you are doing because you should be doing it purely because you love it and that should be the driving force behind your music or art.

You can also connect with Morrison on social media. Visit her Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels.

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Copyright 2020 Jacob Elyachar