After winning a talent competition at work that led to supporting Sam Bailey on stage, the singer-songwriter Sally Rea Morris is turning her back on a career in events and following her country music dreams
Local country singer-songwriter Sally Rea Morris has been into music for as long as she can remember, but things just got a little bit more serious. After winning the opportunity to support the X Factor’s Sam Bailey in March, Sally has left her job in events and hospitality at The Belfry and is pursuing her dream to make a living from her music.
It was while at The Belfry that Sally’s music career took an up-turn. In the hotel’s talent competition, Belfry’s Got Talent which was judged by Sam Bailey, Sally triumphed and relished her prize supporting Sam on stage. While Sally was used to gigging, she hadn’t performed in a theatre setting and was wowed by the experience. She said: “It was amazing. A theatre audience is so different and all the attention is on you”.
Surrounded by music as a child, it was obvious early on that Sally was a bit special. She said: “I’ve always loved music. My dad had guitars and there were all kinds of instruments at home”. Sally started writing music aged 12, performed in school choirs and was a regular in the city of Birmingham Young Voices choir. Clearly creative, Sally was baffled when taking her options at school it wasn’t possible to choose music and art. It was one or the other. She opted for music and went on to complete a Btec in music at college too.
Always performing, Sally was a regular on Birmingham’s music scene gigging around town while studying. Not content with promoting her own talents, she started running an open mic night at the Roadhouse that became hugely successful and uncovered some great local talent like Esther Turner. “Aged just 15 at the time Esther has gone on to do really well. She’s supported The Jacksons among others. I’m really proud of that,” said Sally.
Clearly America is the centre of the country music universe and Sally loves it. An internship in events and hospitality in the US meant she was able to absorb the country vibe first-hand which cemented her passion for the genre. “I began open mic singing while I was out there. It allowed me to travel and I met loads of amazing people.” She plans to spend a lot more time there and was preparing to go to Nashville just after we spoke.
Leaving The Belfry was a bit daunting, but the company has been incredibly supportive making it clear the door is always open. Sally’s focused on writing and recording working with Gavin Monaghan in the studio preparing to put a record out with her band Gasoline and Matches. Influences include US country star Butch Walker who Sally was lucky enough to meet. She recalled: “They say never meet your idols in case you’re disappointed, but it wasn’t the case. We were in a bar drinking vodka at 2am! He’s just a great guy. Really charismatic.”
With only one major country music event in the UK, Sally would like to see more. “There’s C2C at the O2 in London which is pretty big, but that’s it. It’s an amazing genre with really passionate fans. There should be more here in the UK.” With her events grounding we wouldn’t bet against her forging ahead and organising her own.
Despite her penchant for the US, Birmingham will always be home. Sally explained: “It’s such a young energetic city. The shopping is second to none and there are new restaurants popping up all the time. Independents are thriving. Places like Digbeth Dining Club are doing great things. I can’t see myself living anywhere else. Birmingham’s home.”