Jenny Morris left her New Zealand life behind in 1982 to pursue a music career here in Australia. Her career has since taken her all over the world to entertain hundreds of thousands of fans. Jenny shares her successful musical journey with us, prior to performing at Harrigan’s this month.
> You grew up in New Zealand. Has music always figured prominently in your life?
Everyone around me was always very musical. We used to do a lot of harmonies and singalongs in the car as a family. I got my first guitar when I was about 12 from my parents, so I was pretty much immersed in it.
I came to Australia in 1982, and I knew I would pursue music. I guess what brought me here was that it was a bigger market and there were more opportunities here for me as a performer.
> You have toured extensively as a performer. Where have been some of your favourite places?
I loved touring in the America,s because the people there are always ready to hear you play. You know, they don’t think: “I have paid my money, so entertain me”. They are really keen and enthusiastic before they even walk through the door, I guess. That is always good! It’s exciting playing to huge audiences, like I did at Wembley Stadium. That was a highlight that I look back on and think, “Wow!” But there are also some other nice little clubs that I have played at, like the Marquee in London – which was really great, because it has such a history.
In Australia, I love playing the wineries and outdoor gigs, because the climate really lends itself. I do play in a whole lot of different types of venues, and I think it strengthens you as a performer to adapt and make the best of every situation that you find yourself in.
> What are you looking forward to most about playing at Harrigan’s in Harrington?
I haven’t played there before, but I have been there, and I absolutely have good thoughts about it. I have heard it’s a beautiful spot to play in Australia.
> You have been a part of the music industry for two and a half decades! How have you seen it change and develop?
You’re right. It is ever-changing, and I think it’s the fact that technology has gone the way it has – it’s really impacted the music industry. Performance has also been affected, because everything is expensive – from petrol to food to accommodation. It is not as easy as it used to be to tour for long periods of time. And I think the fact that some of the music industry is a lot more keen on fashion and fads.
There was much less paranoia about having hit singles. You were once a lot more free to make the music and be yourself back in the eighties, but today I see that there is a lot more pressure to have that hit. That’s why I say there is an atmosphere of paranoia that didn’t once exist. It’s quite sad, really.
I think there is a lot of music that great people are writing that will never see the light of day, because some ANR person doesn’t believe it will be an immediate hit and make lots of money.
> Some of your most famous songs, such as ‘She has to be Loved’ and ‘Break in the Weather’ still get strong radio play. Does that ever feel peculiar to you?
No, not at all. It has been so much a part of my life for such a long time, that I guess it’s all a part of the job. I still think, “Yay!”
> How important is songwriting to you, and where do you draw inspiration from?
Songwriting is very, very important to me, and I have been writing since I was 12. It has been important from a ‘make a living’ point of view, but also from a therapeutic point of view too.
Its something that I will do forever, and it’s what I have to do. I am very pleased that it gives me satisfaction, and I am very lucky to have something that fulfills me so much. I count my blessings in that respect, certainly.
> What can our readers expect to see at a Jenny Morris Show?
Well, as you can imagine, having done it for so long, I like to think you can always keep a show fresh, and from that perspective there are a couple of different versions of songs that you may not have heard, but people will still recognise.
You will get a beautifully atmospheric show; I’ll be giving people the music they want to hear and also giving them something new as well.
> Thank you Jenny.