CATA sophomore records first single in Nashville

Apr. 11, 2013 @ 05:26 PM

Mackenzi Morris has been singing since she was four years old. 

The 16 year-old sophomore at Central Academy of Technology and Arts recently traveled to Nashville, Tenn. to record her first single. There are two more singles in the works that should be completed by the end of the year. 

“(Mackenzi’s) father plays guitar and sings in a little band called The Smoking Company,” Heather Morris, Mackenzi’s mother, said. “When her father would play, she would get up and sing with them.”

“She’s been playing the piano and the guitar since she could hold them,” Heather said.

Mackenzi has done several talent shows and performed in plays and musicals. She is in the theater academy at CATA. 

“I like being able to tell stories through music and seeing the audience’s reaction,” Mackenzi said.

Mackenzi sings country pop and her first single is called, “This is me.”

Mackenzi said her first singles are “great songs” that she has truly fallen in love with. 

She gravitated toward country music after being exposed to it by her dad. Some of her favorite artists include Carrie Underwood, Lady Antebellum and Johnny Cash.

“(Country music) really has meaning behind it,” Mackenzi said.

Mackenzi has range though, having also performed in Broadway musicals at her school.

“I think she could probably sing anything, but her roots are country,” Heather said. 

The journey to Nashville began last summer on a family trip to Walt Disney World. Mackenzi competed in their “American Idol Experience” attraction, where guests of the park compete in an American Idol-esque singing competition. Mackenzi made it into the final round, where a judge told her she had a radio-quality voice. 

“We made a couple calls and one thing led to another,” Heather said. 

She was signed with Mad Thinker Media for representation. They are currently working to promote her single and get a record deal. 

Mackenzi said it has been “the biggest experience of my life.” 

“Right now, our goal over the next six months is to get her single out and do as much promotion as possible,” Ryan Williams, creative director with Mad Tinker Media, said. 

Williams has represented Mackenzi for about six months. 

“We’re really excited about her,” Williams said. “She’s kind of the client right now...we’re putting a lot into her right now and we think the sky’s the limit.” 

Mackenzi’s singles came from a song publishing company in Nashville called Wide Open Music, which employs some of the top songwriters in Nashville, Williams said. 

“Our access to the songs that we have that we recorded for her is not something that typically unsigned artists can get their hands on,” Williams said. He added that often those songs would only be given to signed artists. “It was kind of a big deal that we were able to get those songs for her.” 

Mackenzi said she is grateful for everything Williams has done for her and that securing those songs felt “really good.” 

“We feel like she has a unique commercial viability and radio voice that definitely separates her from the rest.” 

Mackenzi said that many of her friends and people from around the nation have already purchased her single online. While it is a little bit nerve-wracking, she said, it is also nice to know that people enjoy what she is doing.

“I’m just really proud,” Heather said. “I’ve always known that she was a wonderful singer, but to see her work with professionals and to hear the finished product, it really just blows my mind.”

For Mackenzi, this is hopefully a taste of the future.

“I hope that I can really make music my career,” she said. “(I want to) become a famous singer.” 

Mackenzi is thankful to her grandparents and parents for helping and supporting her during this journey.

Her single is available online at