Mookie Morris: Canadian Idol

Mookie Morris 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 Mookie, 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

Andrea Gordon

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.”

Toronto Star

Congratulations Elicia Mackenzie!!!

Elicia Mackenzie wins to become Maria in The Sound of Music in Toronto. Found some of her singing from the Maria? contest on YouTube.

From Macleans:

“I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in me!” MacKenzie, 23, sang to reporters at the CBC studios after a live finale in which she landed the role of Maria von Trapp in a Toronto production of “The Sound of Music,” set to open Oct. 3.

Melting to the Music

People ask about your music choices and I never really have anything to tell them. I can listen to whatever comes on the radio, standard type fare. But, in truth, the music that makes me melt into a pile of romantic slush is the old stuff and the classical stuff. Sometimes the mushiness of Bryan Adams and Barry Manilow and Jann Arden and so on. I’ve been listening to the Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook CDs tonight and right now I am total mush. I’d go on a date with just about any guy tall enough to hold me while we danced close enough for him to softly sing the words in my ear. Likely the date would end well for both of us.

Excuse me while I flip to the next CD in the series. I had to buy all four when I found them. I also have female crooners and jazz singers but tonight Rod Stewart is getting the air time.

Classical music too… especially something with a cello, kind of strong and mellow.

Christmas Spirit

Even with all the frustration going on these days I am getting kind of excited and happy about Christmas this year. It’s been awhile since I really felt like getting out the Christmas tree and finding what I can of my surviving decorations. Some old and some new this year too.

Maybe I will get the car and license stuff worked out somehow. By Christmas it will be resolved one way or the other. Hope Sherry and I can get together for the baking which I have been looking forward to since last year when we made cookies.

My favourite Christmas thing is the tree and then the carols. The Christmas music was spoiled for me awhile with working in the store and hearing it as soon after Remembrance day as they could get it. It blends in with the background and isn’t anything special when you hear it everyday for weeks and weeks. I wish stores could hang on and wait till at least December 1st. I guess they are just paranoid about sales and can’t wait to get started. After Christmas is a great time for shopping, that’s when I enjoy actually buying anything. But I love going out to the malls now. I love the decorations and the music too when I only listen to it all as long as I want to versus being there for an eight hour shift each day.

How are you feeling about Christmas this year? Someone at work says he hates it. I think it’s really sad that he lets commercialism spoil it all for him. But, that is his choice. If you focus on one aspect and exclude all else… you will never see all the other great things about it which are still here. There is Christmas Spirit and I do believe in Santa Claus. Santa is as real as each of us, as real as the holiday spirit and the decorations at the mall and the lights on houses, businesses and along the main street in town. Santa isn’t a person, it’s a sense of happiness, optimism and goodwill which we choose to have (or not).

Choose well and for heavens sake…. put up your tree, soon!

Trying the Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things about Laura

1. My own hair makes me itch.
2. Rainy days make me want to get outside.
3. When I get wet, I don’t melt. This proves I am not wicked.
4. I like being on the bus when you forget everyone else and just let your mind drift over the road as you speed along. You can’t do that when you’re driving.
5. I really am not all that fond of cold coffee though I drink a lot of it.
6. Moving really does suck, packing is about the same on the scale of suckage.
7. If I like to write why don’t I do more of that?
8. Procrastinating is an art. I call myself an artist.
9. I’m so tired today I am making really lame spelling and typing mistakes.
10. It’s getting really windy as well as rainy outside. I used to like that when I had longer hair. Short hair blows in your eyes a lot more than long hair does.
11. I don’t like music or TV and such on loud. It bugs me.
12. I am really hungry but don’t feel like rushing to nuke another can of soup.
13. I don’t believe 13 is an unlucky number.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. Burnt Offerings

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