true friends: a cosy chat with soprano Sophie Morris
Sophie Morris is a busy woman. Hailing from Dunedin, she has amassed a swag of degrees in music and commerce from Otago University, and already released a debut album. Her rather exceptional vocal chords have seen her front and centre onstage at Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park, at sell-out nights of her own shows, and singing national anthems at major sporting events. She’s vocally shape shifted from 'Sophie' in Mamma Mia, to ‘Sandy’ in Grease: The Arena Spectacular, and Le Nozze di Figaro’s ‘Barbarina’.
In May and June this year she’s also holding her own as a guest artist with The Ten Tenors on the NZ-wide leg of their 20th Anniversary World Tour. Phew! Just before she squeezed her poufy dresses into her suitcase and took to the road, she was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions (in her speaking voice).
Tell us what you’re up to right now
Right now, I am getting ready to go on tour with The Ten Tenors. I am travelling as a guest artist with them on their New Zealand Wish You Were Here Tour as part of their 20th Anniversary World Tour. I’m also really enjoying exploring a more balanced way of life – making time for yoga, meditation and I’m starting my days with something called S.A.V.E.R.S by Hal Elrod which involves silence (meditation), affirmations, visualisations, exercise, reading and scribing. Even on the busiest of days I will fast track each of these and it gets you in a really great place for the day.
What are the biggest challenges to touring?
Staying well! Touring can be a recipe for sickness. So it’s about looking after yourself, making sure you get enough sleep, keeping hydrated and eating well. But touring brings a whole lot of excitement – performing almost every night, visiting our amazing cities and towns and seeing friends and family all over the place. I haven’t met the Tenors yet (except for Kiwi Cameron Barclay) so I am really looking forward to meeting them all and sharing the stage with such wonderful performers and people.
Which hidden gems do you love to share with visitors to your corner of the world?
Ooh well I am from Dunedin and I just love it. I love the vibe that our city has, and the older I get the prouder I am to hail from Dunedin. If I was showing someone around, I would be sure to show them our amazing outdoor spots and beaches, especially Tunnel Beach, the Albatross Colony on The Peninsula and beneath the Albatross Colony where the blue penguins come in at sunset. I would take them for a coffee and breakfast on Vogel Street (Precinct Food, Heritage Coffee, or Vogel St Kitchen) and a wander to see the street art, make sure they went for a walk to watch the surfers at St Clair Esplanade and would feed them at Good Good (amazing burgers in Vogel St) and Izakaya Yuki (Bath Street). I would also make sure they got to the Farmers Market at Dunedin Railway Station on a Saturday morning and had a drink in the Octagon (town centre). If time permitted (this mysterious visitor has a busy itinerary!) I would be taking them up to Hawea (my second home), Wanaka and Queenstown for more amazing food, coffee, mountains, lakes, water-skiing and skiing. Our little corner of the world is pretty spectacular.
What are you reading/watching/listening to?
I don’t watch very much – I don’t have a TV in my house right now, which I am very happy about – however I get my Netflix fix with Planet Earth and Blacklist. But I am listening to music all of the time. My sound system is always hooked up to my Spotify and recently I have been really enjoying Anderson East (R&B), Vallis Alps (electronic music duo) and Camila Cabello’s solo album. I have ended up accumulating a pretty interesting collection of records from my parents and grandparents (plus a few random finds) so it’s not uncommon for me to be listening to Pink Floyd, Xanadu and Flashdance (childhood!), Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash or the Eagles. I also listen to a lot of TED talks which I love, and I am currently reading Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.
Your voice is your instrument, how do you keep it in tune?
Using it. And resting it when you need to (sickness or fatigue). I am lucky to work with an amazing coach who keeps me in shape. Your voice is made up of a whole lot of muscles, so you need to keep it fit with warm ups and daily exercises. It also helps to keep finding an amazing repertoire so you are excited to be practising! I also steam a lot to keep the vocal folds hydrated, and follow vocal health and common sense e.g. no shouting/yelling, limited alcohol, balanced diet etc.
Which three ingredients are absolutely indispensable in your kitchen/fridge/pantry?
1. Mānuka Honey for drinks (hot lemon, honey and ginger and turmeric lattes). 2. Salt for gargling (oral health). 3. Tea. I drink so much tea it is ridiculous. I love chamomile tea at night. 4. (Am I allowed 4?!) Turmeric and ginger. For smoothies/juices and hot drinks. I think there is a common theme in those answers!
How do you like to use Mānuka honey?
Mainly for hot drinks (the good old hot lemon and honeys and turmeric lattes made with fresh turmeric) but I also love having it on toast and putting it in baking as a natural sweetener. If I’m sick I am likely to be eating it by the spoonful. I have also started using a propolis throat spray for throat health.
You’re throwing your ultimate dinner party this weekend. Who’s on the chairs, and what’s on the table?
My ultimate dinner party would be the whole family back together again, no sense of time, no one having to rush away, no worries, everyone happy and healthy, all just there to enjoy each other’s company and have a wonderful time with beautiful food and wine. If I had to invite some other guests, I would like to bring along Einstein and Stephen Hawking. And maybe James Corden for fun.
Pick up your tickets to see Sophie perform with the Ten Tenors
Photo credit, Aliana McDaniel.