This Week in Texas Music History we visit with one of the state’s young country stars. In September 2000, country singer Maren Morris made her big debut at Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue in Arlington.
Since 1974, Johnnie High’s Saturday shows had been a stepping stone for local talent, playing a role in the early careers of Lee Ann Womack, Miranda Lambert, and especially LeAnn Rimes. Morris, age 11 in 2000, was also a huge Rimes fan and auditioned for Johnnie High with her rendition of Rimes’s song “Blue.”
Johnnie High helped unlock the Texas touring circuit, but Morris’ talent didn’t need much help. Her debut album “Hero” with hit single “My Church” won Morris CMA new artist of the year in 2016.
Morris joined an important cohort of women singer-songwriters navigating the challenges of a country music industry that often muted women’s voices after the Chicks’ Iraq War controversy. This led her to color outside the lines, recording “The Middle” with EDM artists Zedd and Grey in 2018, and in 2019 forming Americana supergroup the Highwomen with Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and fellow Texan Amanda Shires.
It’s been many years now since Johnnie High’s Revue, and Morris has crossed genres, shared stages with Dolly Parton and Taylor Swift, and advocated for diverse voices in country music every step of the way.