Becoming Gabrial Morris

Story by Wyatt Tremblay

Summer 2023

Airdrie’s Gabrial Morris has wanted to be a musician all his life. His passion, enthusiasm for his craft, and clarity in what he wants to be and do have guided his career.

”I started really young. It must have been Grade One or Two, and I started to noodle around on the guitar,” says the 23-year-old.

Growing up in Airdrie, he was surrounded by music, and as a teenager, he began practicing seriously.

”I still do that today,” he explains. ”I’m not at a level where I need to stop. I work at it every day, I still practice every day, and I’ve never lost the motivation to do it.”

In 2019, Morris had the opportunity to spend a week in Nashville working with the likes of Don Schlitz, Matraca Berg, and songwriter Gretchen Peters.

”I was lucky to be there. Here are these music legends, and they’re giving me advice.”

For the most part, though, Morris is self-taught and credits his strong vocals and attention-grabbing guitar playing to his desire to hold himself to a high standard.

”I analyze and critique my performances all the time. I practice, and I get better. I want to be looked at as a highly-skilled professional musician. I’m always working towards that.”

Morris became a fixture in open mic events around Airdrie and Calgary and was getting noticed and building a fan base when the pandemic hit. Like other performing artists, he suddenly lost his stage. However, he saw the lockdown as an opportunity for growth.

”I focused hard on my presentation, my product, my sound, and my voice.”

When venues began to reopen, Morris was ready. He became the open mic host at Fitzsimmons Brewing Company, and other opportunities quickly followed.

”It happened so fast,” he says, ”from not playing at all over COVID to playing five days a week.”

Morris has produced two singles, Love Me When You’re Lonely and Out of Misery. Both have become fan favourites. His edgy vocals and crisp guitar playing are bluesy with overtones of classic rock, two genres he appreciates. Out of Misery, he explains, was birthed out of the success and joy he was experiencing as a musician. He says he’d had battles with depression and mental health at times, but the response to his performances and music made him realize he’d been given a gift.

”I had to look at my life, where it was, and where it was going. It felt like chains were breaking, a weight was lifted, and I was out of misery.”

The guitar-driven song is reminiscent of the Tragically Hip and was written for his fans, he says, to express his gratitude for them.

”I’ve been given want I want. Out of Misery is about joy, about the appreciation I feel for what my fans and those who listen to my music have given me.”

In addition to playing at various venues around Airdrie and Calgary, Morris continues hosting multiple open mics at pubs such as Brewsters and 1861. Hosting these events is something he’s proud of, but he sees them as showcases for the community of musicians.

”I didn’t want it to be a competition or an ego-stroking match. We’re all friends. I get to start it off and set the mood, but we’re just there for the love of music. We all just want to play live.”

He’s also focused on writing songs for his first EP. True to his commitment to personal growth and giving his fans quality music, he’s not rushing the process.

”I’m in writing mode. This has to be good; this has to be really special. This EP will be Gabrial Morris.”