The Next Big Thing? Maren Morris' Journey from Arlington Girl to Country Star A Long Time Coming

Maren Morris has been called "the next big thing" in country music. Her hit song, My Church, has critics and country music fans alike singing "Hallelujah." And her first major album "Hero" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts.

But long before she took Nashville by storm, Morris was a girl from Arlington chasing a dream.

Her parents, Scott and Kellie Morris, who describe themselves as "great lovers of music," exposed her to all kinds of sounds, genres and artists at an early age. But claiming to have little musical talent themselves, they were taken aback when they heard their daughter sing.

"I would say around the age of 9, we realized that she had something more," said Kellie Morris.

Looking to provide her with some kind of outlet, they turned to Johnnie High's Country Music Revue at the Arlington Music Hall – just feet away from the hair salon they own in Downtown Arlington.

"We had this opportunity right across the street here," said Kellie Morris. "She auditioned for that and that was the first time she was in front of a band. I think that's when she got bit by the bug."

From then on, when she wasn't busy going to school or working behind the desk at the salon (which is called "Maren Karsen" – named for her and her sister), Maren Morris was making music.

She got her first guitar at age 12 and began writing songs. On weekends, her dad would drive her across Texas to any venue that would let her perform. Some of her first gigs took place a few doors down from the salon at Grease Monkey.

"I think it just started at such an early age, that that's just kind of the way things went," said Scott Morris. "We helped her do what she wanted to do and we were all in with it."

So when she told them she wanted to move to Nashville to pursue a music career, they were behind her.

"She basically said she was going to give it a year and if it didn't work out, she would come home," said Scott Morris.

She never had to come home. Within months of arriving in Nashville, Maren Morris scored a publishing deal and penned songs that were later picked up by well-established artists like Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson.

After focusing on songwriting for a few years, she got back to performing her own music – and caught the attention of several record labels. She ultimately signed with Columbia Nashville.

"I think we were the first ones she called," said Kellie Morris. "It was straight up – happy, joy, jumping up and down."

There's been a lot of jumping up and down since then.

"The first time I heard My Church on the radio, I had to pull over," said Kellie Morris. "And I video Instagrammed the song on the radio and posted it immediately. I was like 'yes!'"

"It's surreal at times," said Scott Morris. "But it's a lot of fun."

These days, the parents take turns running the salon and flying out to see their daughter on the road – watching her play the Grand Ole Opry for the first time and perform on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

"We go to as many events as we can," said Kellie Morris. "We have like half of Arlington going on a bus with us in October and catching her at the American Airlines Center."

They hope this is just the beginning, and they encourage everyone to give their daughter's music a listen.

"There's something on the record for everybody," said Kellie Morris.

Maren Morris is currently on Keith Urban's "RipCORD World Tour," which comes to the American Airlines Center on Oct. 14.

You can also catch her Monday, July 18, on NBC 5, when she performs on Late Night with Seth Meyers.

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