"For some reason, a lot of my life has revolved around recording in closets and tiny spaces," laughs Kendra Morris. It's been a bit of a recurring theme in the New York–based singer-songwriter's career thus far, and it can be traced back to one Christmas at Morris's childhood home in St. Petersburg, Florida. A mini-Kendra, aged eight, discovered that her karaoke machine could also be used as part of a makeshift studio set-up. "I would go into my closet, take these cassette tapes, and I'd start singing, record it, and switch it to the other side and sing over that," she recalls.
Morris grew up imbued with a sense of music—her parents played in bands together, and she often broke into their cabinets full of vinyl to listen to their favorite records. As Marvin Gaye, the Spinners, War, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, and the Temptations washed over her, they soon became hers too. She sang along to her favorite albums with a voice she discovered soon after she learned how to talk.
"I was three years old, and I got up and asked my parents' friends if they wanted my little voice or my big voice," Morris remembers. "And I did this little voice, but then I did this big operatic voice. Maybe that was ingrained in me, because they say some of the main parts of you develop before you're even six years old."
After studying musical theater at a performing arts high school and deciding not to pursue it, Morris half-heartedly went to college in Tampa. She spent less time studying than singing in bands, which ultimately led to her flunking out. She moved back to St. Pete and got a job at Johnny Rockets. "All the kids that I used to go to high school with would go there, and I would have to wait on them, and make their french fries," Morris says.
It was a blow, but Morris used it as a catalyst to do something better.
With her dad's help, she started learning guitar and began writing her own songs. "I didn't want to be in other people's bands anymore," Morris says. "I felt li