You might say that Texas Music Project got a "Second Wind," when it announced its new honorary chairwoman last month. The title goes to Grammy winner and Arlington native Maren Morris, who participated in a songwriting camp organized by the music education nonprofit when she was 16.
Texas Music Project was founded 14 years ago with the mission to increase access to music education programs, especially for disadvantaged groups. Among its programs are the Snowball Express, dedicated to helping children and families of the military; Classroom to Stage, which focuses on learning opportunities for students; the Music Therapy Program for disadvantaged children; a program with Texas Children's Hospital in Houston that provides musical performances and lessons for children with cancer and other serious illnesses; and a program with Townview High School. All programs are funded by public and private donations, grants and merchandise sales.
According to Michael Clay, a member of the TMP’s board of directors and an executive producer and director, TMP made two major donations last year to the Music Therapy Program and the TCH in Houston.
“We are developing a much larger program for TCH and other children’s hospitals where music is an important factor in the healing process,” Clay says. “We also continue our support and seminars with [Big D] band director Dean Hill at Townview in Oak Cliff, as well as Big Thought. TMP and Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs will continue to promote local talent on the Dallas Love Field Stage in 2018.”
As an alumna of the TMP, Morris is proof of how organizations like it can affect change.
“TMP believed in Maren when she was a young teenager, and we raised money to send her to a Grammy songwriting class in California,” Clay says. “The fact Maren won a Grammy in 2017 is a testimonial for what we are doing as a grassroots resource to the music industry for youth and the community. Maren is one of many young artists we have supported with grants and performance opportunities that have gone on to have a career in music.”
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Morris began writing songs when she was a child and played in honky-tonks in Texas and Oklahoma before she was in her teens. She moved to Nashville when she was 22, where she became a songwriter for major artists such as Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson. In 2015, she signed with Columbia Nashville as a solo act.
Morris won a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance for "My Church" last year, and this year, she's nominated in the same category for "I Could Use a Love Song." She recently told Billboard that she's working on her second album.
Later this month, Morris will begin a world tour in Mexico, followed by shows in New Zealand, Australia and South America over the summer. She will play in Dallas on July 20 at Starplex Pavillion.
Other artists supported by the TMP include 29-year-old Emily Elbert, a singer-songwriter from Dallas, and Matt Tedder, a musician and singer-songwriter from Fort Worth who appeared on The Voice.