(Photo courtesy Jamie Findlay) Salt Lake-based singer-songwriter Morgan Whitney will play her final show with her backing band, The Gold, on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017 before embarking on a solo career. She says her style is rooted in Southern rock and blues comprising soulful vocals infused by modern pop sounds.
Salt Lake-based singer-songwriter Morgan Whitney has high hopes for Utah’s music scene. She had planned to move to New York to jump-start her music career, but a trip out to see Utah’s Tony Holiday and the Velvetones perform opened her eyes to what her home state has to offer.
“I saw a lot of live bands [in New York] and it really discouraged me from moving to New York because I hated it,” Whitney said. “I could walk into any club or bar that has live music in Salt Lake and pick out a musician that is three times more talented than any of these bands that I was listening to.”
A self-described seasoned performer, Whitney performs Friday night at The Ice Haüs in Murray. The show marks the last that she performs as part of Morgan Whitney and the Gold before embarking on taking her career solo.
Whitney determined at age 6 that she wanted to be a singer. Her ambition was fueled by the musical talents of her older sister, and her “seductive Southern rock” sounds are influenced by classic rock musicians she grew up listening to, such as Journey, Queen, Led Zeppelin and Boston.
Following in the footsteps of her older sister, Whitney started out on piano, but quickly realized the instrument was not for her. Instead, she learned how to play the guitar through a combination of private lessons and self-teaching. Her first public performance happened during her first-grade talent show, when she performed a song from “The Land Before Time.”
“I remember the feeling of the adrenaline from being scared to perform in front of people and the feeling that I loved holding the microphone and singing,” Whitney said. “I remember thinking that this is what I want to do.”
(Photo courtesy Samuel Glenn Dagal Anderson) Salt Lake-based singer-songwriter Morgan Whitney will play her final show with her backing band, The Gold, on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017 before embarking on a solo career. She says her style is rooted in Southern rock and blues comprising soulful vocals infused by modern pop sounds.
She went on to participate in musical theater in middle school and high school, where she would get her adrenaline-rush fix performing memorized lines and choreographed dance moves onstage. Her junior year of high school, she upped the ante when she set out to compete in the Miss Riverton beauty pageant. Hoping to win scholarship money, Whitney used her vocal skills for the talent portion. She did not place. But the second year, she won Miss Riverton and went on to compete in Miss Utah.
“The pageant thing molded me more than any other experience,” Whitney said. “It helped me as a performer overall. Being onstage and having a stage presence is big in the pageant world. You kind of have to market yourself to the judges. As a music artist, [marketing yourself] is your No. 1 job. Everything you do in music, you have to market yourself and be likable in the general population. It was a great way for me to refine my craft as an overall performer and an overall human being.”
Post-pageant days, Whitney continues to find ways to showcase her musical talents on a full-time basis. In 2014, she won a local music competition hosted by Broadway Media called Salt City Superstars. Winning gave her the opportunity to record her first EP, which she released in 2016.
Whitney said her music style is lyrically based in the country genre, while her sound is rooted in Southern rock and blues with soulful vocals infused by modern pop sounds. She is constantly taking notes on her phone for new song ideas whenever she is inspired. Her single “Men Love Mystery” was inspired by a lipstick color.
“Any time any sort of line or song idea comes in my head, I write it down. I have about 400 notes of song ideas,” Whitney said. “My mind is always running and thinking about what could be turned into a song. I try to look for inspiration anywhere.”
As she looks to the future, Whitney plans to continue to work with Greg Down and Royal Bliss bassist Dwayne Crawford at Sugar House’s Pale Horse Sound Studio, perform with rotating backup musicians and record her first full-length album — all of which she has every intention of doing right here in Utah.
“We have great talent and I am honored to play with some of these musicians and to say that I am from Salt Lake,” Whitney said. “A lot of people don’t think about Salt Lake as having a music scene, but we do and it’s awesome. I wish that the general public felt more strongly about going to see live music and supporting the musicians here. I think there is really good music that people would enjoy.”
Morgan Whitney and the GoldWith Melody & the BreakupsWhen • Friday, 10 p.m.Where • The Ice Haüs, 7 E. 4800 South, MurrayTickets • $5 at the door