NEW MADISON — Slated to appear on the Fox TV series “American Idol” in the spring, 2016 Tri-Village graduate Knox Morris will head to Nashville, Tennessee soon to pursue his musical career.
Morris, 21, originally hails from Springfield but moved to New Madison when he was 15.
“My dad was a basketball coach, so I played sports my whole life,” Morris said. “But I grew up in a town, not in the country, so when you’re out in the middle of all those fields, things are a little different. The basketball season was over for the year, and for the first time in my life, I really didn’t have anything to do.”
As a result, Morris said, he wound up picking up an acoustic guitar he hadn’t touched since he was 10 years old and starting to teach himself how to play.
“I watched some YouTube videos,” Morris said. “And all of a sudden people started telling me, ‘Hey, you’re pretty good.’”
Morris got his feet wet performing for an audience by playing the first dance song at his cousin’s wedding.
“I’ve never been so nervous in my entire existence,” Morris said. “But it went OK, and after that I just wanted to keep on playing.”
During his first semester at Ohio University, Morris started playing at open mic nights in Athens then stepped things up a notch after returning to Darke County for the holidays.
“Over Christmas break, I wrote like four songs,” Morris said. “And I just remember getting back to school and all I wanted to do was play.”
Morris auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” shortly thereafter.
“I was just getting started, so they shooed me away pretty quick,” Morris said.
In September Morris attended auditions for “American Idol” in Columbus, Atlanta and Louisville, Kentucky where he filmed in front of hosts Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. The season in which Morris is expected to appear will begin airing in March of this year.
“I went to Columbus without telling anybody,” Morris said. “I didn’t even tell my parents I was going. So when they asked me to come back for the Atlanta auditions, I called my mom at work and said, ‘Mom, I’ve got some pretty big news for ya…’”
Morris said his favorite part of the auditioning process was getting to interact with fellow artists and musicians from all over the country.
“There’s not a lot of people out here who try to do something like this, so sometimes I feel like ‘Man, I must be crazy,” Morris said. “But seeing all these people my age who have that same drive — I knew I wasn’t alone, and that’s just a comforting feeling. I met a 15-year-old girl who was the best guitar player I’ve ever sat in a room with. I hung out with people from L.A. to Jacksonville, Florida.”
After the “American Idol” auditions, a friend and fellow local musician, Tommy Renfro, sent some videos of Morris performing to recruiters at Zodlounge, a music production company in Nashville.
“And they said, ‘Can you get him here next week?’” Morris said.
Morris will play a show this Friday at Donkey Coffee and Espresso in Athens; he’ll appear at Carmie’s BBQ and Grill in Tiffin on Jan. 26. He also has an EP consisting of three or four songs set to be released by the end of 2019 and hopes to move to Nashville sometime in the next month to continue pursuing his music. He credits Brett Vargason, Tom Michael, and Aaron Moses — the producers he’s been working with at Zodlounge — with helping bring about these exciting new developments in his life.
“They’re three of the greatest guys I’ve ever met, and I’m really excited to keep working with them,” Morris said. “We have some big ideas. I’m really excited for 2019.”