was eliminated from Canadian Idol this week. I did not expect him to be gone. He was my choice to be the Canadian Idol this year. So I’m surprised and disappointed. Some of the articles about the voting have said Toronto does not vote for the contestants from Toronto. I’m from Toronto originally and maybe it is true. I don’t think much about where they are from when I vote. I just vote for those I like. I voted for , over and over. I really wish he was going to be on next week and the week after, right up to the end.
The Mookie Experience on MySpace.
Toronto’s own Mookie Morris rocks Idol judges
July 21, 2008
Mookie Morris, the easy-going baby in a brood of four, has always been called “the coolest Morris,” says his sister Deirdre.
Three weeks ago, Canadian Idol judge Zack Werner called the 18-year-old singer “the coolest guy in the history of the show.”
Quite a leap for a kid who started teaching himself to sing and play guitar four years ago, when a broken ankle put his elite AAA hockey season on hold.
Quite an inspiration for zillions of kids banging drums and plucking bass strings in basements all over the GTA.
Morris is one of the remaining nine Idol finalists, including fellow Torontonian Sebastian Pigott, who compete tonight to become one of the top eight.
“Yeah, it’s kind of a lot to take in,” Morris chuckled over the phone last week between rehearsals.
Nicknamed for former Blue Jay Mookie Wilson’s game-winning hit the evening he was born, the teenager (whose real name is Peter) honed his performing skills in garage bands and battle-of the-bands gigs around Toronto. “I must have been in about 10, I can’t even remember them all.”
After his ankle injury, he gradually eased out of hockey but diverted that same intensity to his music.
His first band was Gong Show, back in Grade 8. They got their start at a concert fundraiser set up by his brother in university. Deirdre Morris, 23, remembers Mookie rocking the house with his version of “Twist and Shout.” The college kids went crazy. A woman’s undergarment was flung on the stage.
Four years later, when he performed that classic at an Idol audition, judge Jake Gold said: “I really do believe you are a star.”
At Northern Secondary School, he was lead singer for Blind Sight, which attracted a loyal following to all-ages events at teen haunts like The Kathedral and Reilly’s. He finished his last school credits at City Academy in January and has been devoted to writing music, playing and “just trying to grow up” since then.
He’s registered for Concordia University in the fall, but says he’d rather end up following his musical dreams.
His mom, Julie Wang Morris, is still in shock. “These were kids who played in the garage!” she hollers over the phone. His dad plays piano and harmonica, she likes to sing and figures musical genes also came from her parents, who lived in a fishing village in Taiwan. Mookie, who she describes as “remarkably secure in himself,” is her only musical child.
She was one of those moms with a minivan who ferried guitars and amplifiers and wannabe rock stars all over the city on Friday and Saturday nights. She was also one of those parents who wasn’t too keen on the venues packed with pumped-up adolescents, questionable supervision, and lots of noise and body-slamming.
“I always worried,” she says. “But it was their only choice if they wanted to play.”
Guitarist Sean Fischer, 19, says Mookie is “a regular dude,” kind of shy. “And then once he starts to sing, he completely transforms.”
Over six-feet tall, dark-haired, brown-eyed and clad in punky blazers and Ts, his look inspired Idol judge Sass Jordan to once describe him as “Louis Armstrong meets Elvis Costello.”
“He has phenomenal presence and soul – you can hear it in his voice,” adds his bandmate, drummer Daniel Singer, 19. But audiences love him mostly because “he’s true to himself.”
That showed up in some of his unusual song choices for Canadian Idol.
Deirdre warned him against “Valerie” by British band The Zutons. Too obscure, she said.
He did it anyway. The judges loved it – it was what prompted Werner’s “coolest guy” compliment. And judge Farley Flex praised his understanding of “who you are, why you’re here and what you want to do.”
“Now I just keep quiet,” Dierdre says.
Last week was “a bit of a low point” though, as Mookie describes it. The response to his rendition of David Bowie’s little-known “The Man Who Sold the World” didn’t overwhelm. He and Pigott were both in the bottom three. The judges noted Toronto isn’t voting.
His mom and sister took matters into their own hands. They produced 300 “Vote Mookie” lawn signs, hung a giant banner over a Yonge St. overpass in their neighbourhood. They’ve organized another “Mookie Night in Canada” tonight at a pub to watch and vote.
Mookie meantime, is revelling in it all, but in his typical laid-back style.
Sure, he wants to win. But his ultimate goal: “just to be happy in life . . . I want to just be able to do music as a job, you know, go on tour, travel the world and record.”