Young drummer Mia Morris is one of the most sought-after musicians in Music City. Her uncanny rock sensibility rivals those who have been in the genre for years.
When I first heard Mia Morris play and sing with the Song Suffragettes, it was obvious she was super talented. What I did not know initially was that this young musician was just 15 years old, and playing for the Song Suffragettes is just a small part of what this epically talented rock drummer does. I had to find out more about her.
Morris’ family comes from Indianapolis. Even though she does not come from a musical family, her parents saw the potential in Mia at an early age. At 10, she started drumming and then took lessons from Indianapolis drummer Wade Parrish. Her parents saw she was gifted and serious about her music, and they started having the “move to Nashville” talk when she was in sixth grade.
“My dad realized I was not going to give up drums in particular when he bought my first electric drum set, a Roland TD-15 Electric Drum Set,” Morris said.
“Rock has always been one of my favorite genres, and I am drawn to it because rock songs are so fun to play on the drums.”
Country music normally has basic drum parts, but even though Mia doesn’t listen to much [heavy] metal “rock and metal are so fun to play and metal drummers are just crazy good.”
But Mia plays way more than just drums.
“At age 11, I had been playing drum covers on Youtube for about a year,” she said. I realized I wanted to be able to play all the parts; I wanted some variety. I started picking up guitar and bass so I could literally create the whole song.”
Part of her YouTube sensation is that she now has videos of her playing all the parts. She has more than 40,000 Youtube followers. Now with Instagram’s popularity, she does “mash-ups” for her followers there, as well. How many people born in 2004 do you know who follow the B52s and Foo Fighters? Two of the songs she is most proud of is an original song that she wrote, produced and sang and played all the parts, “What Made You Famous,” and a cover of Alessia Cara’s “Out of Love.”
When you follow her original music on Spotify, one thing that sets her apart is that she sings and plays all the parts, along with mixing the final recording.
“I find such joy in being able to create all the parts exactly how I want. I can change them and not have to tell a musician how to do it,” she said.
She has a little studio in her basement where she makes the magic happen.
Mia purposely does not have a producer or label, because she doesn’t want to lose any of the creative artistic ability that goes along with being an independent artist. She writes music and records it plays the parts and mixes it all together exactly the way she wants it. Because she a musical genius, the end result is perfection.
Since songwriting is also a part of her wheelhouse, I asked Mia where she got the ideas for the songs she writes.
“I am constantly working, but school has an influence on what I write. I have an awesome friend group, an amazing group of girls who I hang out with and they help me [get ideas]. They will be telling her a story, and she said, “I try to be really low key, but if I hear a line in their story, I’ll be like ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a song.’ And I will whip out my phone and type it in my notes.”
One of the things she has worked on lately is her vocals. She has actually bought a hybrid stand-up drum kit, so when she sings live, she can sing while accompanying herself on drums.
“I am trying to bring the power of percussion to the front of the stage. I am so excited about it, because now I do my two favorite things,” she said.
On Jan. 13, Mia performed her original song live on television at Nashville’s local NBC affiliate, where she proved that as a drummer, she also successfully sang lead. However, she couldn’t clone herself, and she had to have two friends play guitar and bass.
The high school she attends in Brentwood allows her to take two online classes, so she attends school from 7:40 a.m. until 12:15 p.m.
“This has made the biggest difference,” she said.
When she was in middle school, she had to go to school until 3:15 p.m. It was hard to practice, do homework and play gigs. This allows her the time she needs to practice and pursue her dreams. Last year alone, she played with more than 120 artists.
“Playing music is my favorite thing to do,” she said.
Until recently, she admits she never thought about becoming a featured artist as she was content to back up other artists.
“Being famous can be cool, but a lot of that would suck, because you can’t do normal things without people coming up to you,” Morris said. “But now I realize that if I ever did get any traction, it wouldn’t last that long. The ultimate goal for me is just to be able to do music forever. If I become an artist that gets a little bit of cred, then I can produce people, write music and do studio work. Right now I am focusing on writing and recording songs, being an artist.”
She still loves playing backup for artists when time allows. Although she is not opposed to signing with a music publishing company, it is not her goal at the moment.
Mia Morris’ picture is prominently featured in the Frist Music Room at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville. I asked her what advice she would give to young children today.
She said, “If you can find your passion, the thing that you want to wake up in the morning and do until the sun goes down. Just do it. Put all of your time and effort into it. If you work hard at something, there is a pretty good chance you’ll be able to do something like that in the future. I want everyone to find their passion, what they were born for, and for me, that’s music.”
Not only can you follow Mia Morris on YouTube, Instagram and Spotify, but she also started her own vlog in August 2018, where she takes you on her journey as a young and talented musician navigating the murky waters of Music City. With her dad, Oliver, being a video guru and her full-time sidekick, her tale is a fascinating story that is still unfolding. She recently completed her 16th episode, and her heightened poise and presence is the biggest difference you can see as she confidently backs up two acts playing the Ryman.
We will get to see Mia Morris performing around Nashville for at least three more years as she needs to turn 18 and finish high school. But after that, I’m not sure this town will be able to contain one of the most talented people I have ever met. At least I got my picture made with her, so I can show my grandchildren.
Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blog, Instagram and Twitter.