Seattle artist Jesse Morrow will perform free in the SURC tonight

By ADAM WILSON, staff reporter

Jesse Morrow has been a musician for years, but three albums and one overfunded Kickstarter campaign later, his career is just getting started.

The Seattle-based artist will be performing for the second time on campus, according to Campus Activities employee Nicholas Faucett. Morrow recently released his third album, “Things I Might Lose,” on April 9, which he funded through the crowdsourcing website, Kickstarter.com.  While he only asked for $5,000, he received $6,495 to help fund the project.

“It was encouraging to keep going in this direction,” Morrow said, describing the campaign success as “another sign that people actually do like this music.”

Morrow grew up in Michigan, where his passion for music began with his high school band.  He decided he wanted to sing instead, despite his lack of confidence in his voice.

“I sucked,” Morrow said.  “I picked up the guitar to practice my vocal lines.  That’s when I figured out I liked the guitar and songwriting.”

In 2009, Morrow released his first album “New Beginnings,” which was inspired by his life experiences and those of his family and friends.  The album was a culmination of over three years of songwriting, according to Morrow.

“Those songs were not based on a concept, but really rooted in other people’s lives and the stories they had to tell,” Morrow said.

Morrow performed for the first time in February 2009, following the release of “New Beginnings.”  It was one of many early performances which Morrow described as nerve-wracking.

“One time I came back to Michigan and decided to play this show, even though I hadn’t played in a month,” Morrow said.  “In the middle of the second song I forgot the words.  There’s probably only two songs where I didn’t forget the lyrics and the rest I completely botched.”

After the album’s release, Morrow moved to Bellingham to work as an art director at a local church, but he didn’t stop working on his music.  He eventually met Brian Fennell at a concert at Western Washington University, where Fennell’s band Barcelona, was performing.

“He gave me his first album and I listened to it on the way home,” Fennell said, describing the day he met Morrow.  “I liked his voice a lot and reached out to see if he’d be interested in working together.”

Fennell helped Morrow record his second album, “Come on Speak Up.”  Unlike “New Beginnings,” this album featured a full band, instead of just Morrow’s voice and guitar.  Fennell was more than happy to help Morrow with his career, especially due to his personality.

“He’s a great musician, but I don’t think that’s what will carry him through his career,” Fennel said.  “Being a nice and respectful human will be what does the most for him.  I’m attracted to that in people, and creating music together is a bonus on top of that relationship.”

After releasing “Come on Speak Up,” Morrow decided he wanted to leave his job as an art director and become a full-time musician, although the decision was not easy.

“The security that’s in a full-time job, and the approval from society, is definitely a hard one to fight,” Morrow said. “It was as hard as breaking up with a girl or leaving somebody.”

Morrow’s decision came with much approval from his friends and family, who helped fund Morrow’s third album. His friends also helped advertise the new album.

“There was an overwhelming amount of people on Facebook spreading the word for me, which is great when you can’t afford a PR company to do the marketing,” Morrow said.

For his latest album, Morrow drew from his religious experiences at the church where he worked, and self-conflict in general.  The overall tone of the album is more serious than “New Beginnings.”

“I’ve been writing these happy songs because I felt like writing a happy song,” Morrow said.  “I finally took a minute and thought about some serious stuff over the past couple of years.  They’re not the happiest of songs, but they’re real.”

Morrow will be performing in the SURC Pit at 7:30 p.m. tonight.