Carla Morrison: "If I'd Have Followed the Rules, I'd Still Not Be Doing Anything"
Carla Morrison's return to the Valley is a bit of a homecoming: She attended high school at Marcos de Niza and took music classes at Mesa Community College before dropping out to perform with friends in Tempe's Babaluca. They built a local following for three years before Carla moved out to Mexico City, to pursue her solo career.
Since then, she's won multiple Latin Grammy Awards and played to growing crowds as a solo artist. On Thursday, her Valley fans will get a chance to watch her perform again when she pays a visit to the Musical Instrument Museum Theater; we got a chance to talk with her ahead of the show about struggling through class and finding the will to keep going with an assist from First Fridays.
Carla's acoustic EP, Jugando en Serio, was released Tuesday to iTunes, but it was originally recorded two years ago, between her albums Mientras Tu Dormias and Dejenme Llorar. If you're a Carla Morrison fan, you'll recognize all of these songs, which have appeared on her albums in different versions.
Each one is impeccably crafted, and these acoustic performances make it sound like you're in the room as the songs are being performed. The cover art features Carla lying on a bed with instruments very much like the ones she once wandered through thrift shops and vintage stores for in Phoenix: a ukulele, a xylophone, a toy keyboard, tambourine, maracas, a guitar, and an accordion (as well as a cute sleeping puppy.)
But Carla wasn't a natural multi-instrumentalist. She first taught herself to play the keyboard before eventually moving over to the guitar, her main weapon nowadays.
She would frequent vintage stores and Goodwill thrift shops in Phoenix shopping for "little Casio keyboards and organs," which she used to practice on and experiment with. But playing didn't come easily for Morrison, who admits, "I used to flunk my music classes. I couldn't pass piano, music theory, or guitar. I just couldn't do it. I preferred to take the route of learning it by myself."