People are now searching for unique ways to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions, and no one knows this better than Cal Morris. Morris has been traveling throughout the area serenading customers with his violin, bringing joy to each recipient.
Originally from Guthrie, Oklahoma, Morris was raised on a 20-acre farm with his 12 brothers and sisters. At a very early age, Morris and his identical twin brother were drawn to musical instruments such as the piano, violin and viola.
Dr. Hong Zhu, a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, heard the brothers play at a recital and initiated becoming their personal instructor. Even though the brothers excelled at the music, they ultimately turned down college music scholarships to go into the family construction business.
The early years of music and the next years of self-employment created this special combination of skills for Morris that eventually led him into music full-time, but in a very unique, entrepreneurial, family-focused way.
In 2016, a few weeks after their baby daughter was born, the Morris family loaded up their newborn and two-year-old son in their minivan and ultimately landed in the Tampa Bay area to pursue music. “I could not be more grateful for all the people who invested in, fostered and supported me to make this life possible.”
In a turn of events, Morris was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer 18 months ago and began rigorous treatments which has put him in remission but also left him with some extensive side effects where he almost lost his life last summer.
“I am on immunosuppressive medicine to help my body handle the transplant, but that makes me at high risk for getting sick,” said Morris. “Because of COVID, more people are being super careful. It was almost scarier for me a year ago to be in public. But now with masks and so much awareness of not spreading germs and sanitizing, I feel like I’m less nervous. Health is such a gift and it’s so scary to lose it.”
Like many people, Morris lost all of his work during COVID-19.
“Every event was canceled. Every venue I could play was closed,” said Morris. “But, one of the best parts of COVID has been the creative, intentional ways so many people have figured out how to connect and ‘make it work.’ When you’re a husband and father and suddenly have no job for an unforeseeable amount of time, and so many others are feeling the same fear, it’s a ripe time to come together.”
Morris started doing live concerts on social media and then offered virtual serenades which ultimately lead to requests for socially distant, in-person serenades.
“It has been an emotional, beautiful way to surprise, share and bond with people,” said Morris.
One of the most special moments for Morris was a serenade for a nurse who had a recently-widowed patient whose husband died from COVID-19.
“The love her nurse has for her is priceless. She wanted a way to cheer her up and give her just a moment of joy to help lighten the pain, so she had me come out and perform. The smile on her face melted my heart. She just gazed and smiled and laughed and said, ‘Oh, I’m so lucky! How am I so lucky?’ Does it get better than that? It was such an honor for me.”
Morris will travel within three hours of the Tampa Bay area and has an extensive song list to choose from. Each serenade consists of about four personally selected songs.
For more information, visit www.calmorrismusic.com or follow him on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter by searching ‘Cal Morris Music.’