Band of the Day

2012.08.28

Kendra Morris

Tender Motown-inspired melodies from a modern soul songstress
Did you ever try to burn a breeze? Candles catch torching the trees. Did you ever try to burn a breeze? Eye for eye, teeth for teeth.
lyrics from Concrete Waves

Within tight confines, singer-songwriter Kendra Morris developed her bluesy music career since early childhood. Given her family’s music background—her father, a guitarist, and her mother, a singer—the Florida native started recording over cassette tapes through her karaoke machine in the makeshift studio she called her closet. The then-eight-year-old moved to New York City in 2003, where she continued to produce closet music after diverging from former all-girl band Pinktricity. She self-released her This Won’t Hurt a Bit EP in 2007 and, subsequently, her Milk and Cookies Never Lie EP in 2008. Morris performed at gigs around New York City and eventually started making music with producer Jeremy Page, leading up to the release of her self-titled EP in 2010. Her career has since picked up attention and took another big step with the recent release of her first LP, Banshee, through Wax Poetics Records in August 2012.

Some kids break into their parents liquor cabinets, but soul songstress Kendra Morris was the kid who broke into her parents vinyl collection. Instead of sneaking tastes of forbidden libations, Morris would listen to her parent’s--both of whom played in bands together--favorite records like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, and The Temptations. At three years old, she was already singing along to her favorite albums, and by eight she started using her karaoke machine in a makeshift closet studio set-up, recording her own cassettes. She studied musical theater at a performing arts high school, briefly went to college in Tampa, where she sang in bands, but ultimately dropped out and moved back home. Her dad taught her the guitar, and Morris began writing her own songs. This led to a move to New York in 2003, with an all-girl band called Pinktricity. The group eventually split, leading Morris to finally pursue a career as a solo artist and self-release two EPs in 2007 (This Won’t Hurt A Bit) and 2008 (Milk and Cookies Never Lie). Around New York, she became known for performing with an ‘80s boombox that was used as an amp, and began collaborating with producer Jeremy Page, who worked on her 2010 self-titled EP. Now in 2012, Morris has finally released her first full-length debut (also with Page at the producer’s helm). It’s called Banshee, which is ironic when you consider the fact that Morris’ voice is nothing like the frightening shriek of the female demon from Irish folklore. Take first single “If You Didn’t Go”; her voice is smooth and warm as the crackle on those old vinyl records, matched beautifully with the classic strings and jazz-funk guitars. “Pow” kicks up the sass, but without losing the alluring, old school soul vibe. The opening of “Concrete Waves,” with stark and echo-y instrumentation, sounds like it could be from the soundtrack of a 60s spy film (Morris herself even looks a bit like a Bond girl). Throughout the album, Morris’ influences come in loud and clear--it’s a good thing her parents had great taste in music.